Betting honours fairly even after opening day

A partial success was the message emanating from the majority of bookmakers after the first day of Royal Ascot saw just two favourites pass the winning post first.

A partial success was the message emanating from the majority of bookmakers after the first day of Royal Ascot saw just two favourites pass the winning post first.

Araafa inflicted most wounds when easily obliging as the 2-1 favourite in the St James’s Palace Stakes, with one bet of £5,000 (€7,315.83) to win £10,000 (€14,631.66) recorded.

Hellvelyn (4-1 joint-favourite) got the layers off to a costly start in the opening Coventry Stakes, with Takeover Target causing further damage when landing a blow for Australia in the King’s Stand.

Coral’s Simon Clare said: “We started poorly as the first three winners were well backed but the later races gave us an advantage.

“There couldn’t have been a worse possible start but things improved through the day. Takeover Target may have drifted on the day but he had been backed ante-post and Araafa was the worst by far – he was the banker for many.

“The bookies may be up after day one but there is a long way to go.”

Wins for Ad Valorem (13-2) in the Queen Anne and for Baddam (33-1) and Elhamri (20-1) later on ensured bookies did not leave with empty satchels.

Damien Walker of Totesport said: “We were in trouble after the first three races but the last three more than made up for it and we have ended up ahead at the end of the day.

“Araafa would have been the worst result but after being down at halftime, a couple of late goals have got us out of trouble.”

There was good news too for Stan James, with representative Neil Morrice saying: “Overall it has been a good day for us, although we have finished level with punters.

“We opposed Proclamation and he never looked like costing us in the Queen Anne but the St James’s Palace was a bad result.”

However, Irish layers Paddy Power were left with open wounds.

“It is not often we are cheering a Royal Ascot winner for Aidan O’Brien and Kieren Fallon but the win of Ad Valorem in the Queen Anne rescued the day for us,” said spokesman Paddy Power.

“However, the other results ensured punters had the edge on day one.”

And the prognosis was even worse for William Hill, with the Leeds firm’s Ben Clarke adding: “We have been hit hard. The first four results were disastrous for us and although the last couple of races were good it has been a day for punters.”

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