Bookies fear bashing as punters eye hotpots

Bookmakers will be shouting for a couple of shock results on the first day of Royal Ascot to kick-start what promises to be the biggest betting week of the summer.

Bookies fear  bashing   as punters  eye hotpots

The star-studded card features two short-priced favourites in Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes, the five-day feast’s curtain raiser, and Kingman in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Should both win, then the layers could be in for a tough time with Treve, the mount of the ever-popular Frankie Dettori, considered a banker tomorrow in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

It could get even worse on Thursday, where Leading Light is a warm favourite for the Gold Cup. However, with England playing Uruguay in the World Cup in the evening, there is also likely to be plenty of support for Brown Panther, owned and bred by former striker Michael Owen.

“The way they have redesigned Royal Ascot in recent years has front-loaded the interest into the opening day. To that effect, it will have an enormous bearing on the final outcome of the five days,” said David Williams of Ladbrokes.

“It looks pretty ominous. There are some good things and the favourites are being extremely well-backed – the likes of Toronado and Kingman in their respective races. And then there’s Hot Streak, who has a Royal Ascot profile in the King’s Stand.

“We are approaching it with a degree of trepidation. If four results go the punters way, or God help us five, it will be an awful long way back for the bookmakers. There are more short-priced horses tomorrow than there were last year.

“When Royal Ascot is on and it’s World Cup year we don’t see much of a decline in the betting. People get caught up in the general all-encompassing enthusiasm of sport.

“On Wednesday, we know Treve is odds-on and Abseil’s price for the Royal Hunt Cup has been in freefall since before it ran at Epsom. It means we could be running for cover by Leading Light in the Gold Cup on Thursday.

“Thursday will be an absolutely enormous day, but at this stage given the profile of the opening day we can’t really see beyond that and just hope we can survive that with no more than just a few flesh wounds.

“The nightmare scenario is if four or five races go to the favourite on Tuesday, Treve and Abseil win on Wednesday, and Leading Light or Brown Panther go in on Thursday – we probably won’t even bother watching the football on Thursday night. We’ll be in a dark room without a telly!

“It is incredibly exciting. Royal Ascot week is the biggest week of our summer and when that coincides with the World Cup it makes for one of the most sensational weeks of the entire year.”

David Stevens of Coral is not as pessimistic as Williams about bookies being stuck on the ropes after the first day.

“As with Animal Kingdom, who got beat in the Queen Anne last year, Toronado is going to be the cornerstone of a lot of day-one bets and then we have another shorty later in the day in Kingman, but there is enough opposition to both those horses and they are ideal races to kick the meeting off,” he said.

“Neither is prohibitively short. Obviously we’d like one or both of them beaten and in Verrazano and Night Of Thunder they have strong opponents in their respective races.

“The Coventry and the King’s Stand look wide open and the last two races on day one are like that, too.

“The shorty on Wednesday is Treve, the shorty on Thursday is Leading Light, but around that you’ve got not just the handicaps but some of the Group races that do look wide open.

“Punters could get off to a flier tomorrow, but looking at the rest of the week there are plenty of opportunities to get some of it back.

“And I think horses like Toronado and Treve will be a bigger price on the morning than they have been for a few days. My advice to punters is to hold fire until the day of the race. It is such a competitive market place.”

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