Honours even in Ascot betting battle

There was little to choose between punters and bookmakers after a week-long battle in the betting ring came to a close at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

There was little to choose between punters and bookmakers after a week-long battle in the betting ring came to a close at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

Results were mixed during the first four days of the summer showpiece meeting, with Fame And Glory's Gold Cup triumph on Thursday earning the backers a welcome verdict following the demise of the same yard's So You Think a day earlier in the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

Both the layers and the punters headed into the final day full of optimism that they were still in a position to come out on top.

But it was the latter who got off to a flying start as Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore combined with 5-2 favourite Maybe in the Chesham Stakes.

The Ballydoyle betting boys were at it again in the Hardwicke Stakes, with the shade of odds-on available about Await The Dawn not enough to stop punters becoming heavily involved.

The hugely promising four-year-old was sent off the 4-7 favourite and duly dotted up, leaving the bookies fearing for the worst.

Respite was just around the corner, however, as the James Fanshawe-trained 25-1 poke Society Rock shocked the grandstand by beating a top-class field of sprinters in the Golden Jubilee.

The same Newmarket handler once again proved a friend to the bookmakers in the following Wokingham Stakes as Deacon Blue (15-2) emerged victorious, with a big gamble on Hoof It going badly astray.

With the layers now on something of a run, 12-1 shot Fox Hunt's victory in the Duke pf Edinburgh Stakes was more money in the satchel, with market leader Modun running deplorably.

There was no major blow struck by either side in the closing Queen Alexandra Stakes, which went to John Dunop's 11-2 chance Swingkeel.

Totesport spokesman George Primarolo said: "It was tough going on the last day of Royal Ascot and the first two Aidan O'Brien-trained winners set the tone of the day.

"However, it wasn't enough to ruin what's been a good week and we're definitely in front over the five days."

The O'Brien victories ensured Irish bookmaker Paddy Power would not be coming out on top over the five days.

"After the first two races today we were never going to come back, although the Wokingham and the Golden Jubilee were good results for us," said Power.

"But they were just a salvage operation and punters marginally got the best of us over the week."

William Hill's Kate Miller was pleased to report turnover was up over the meeting on a whole, with the firm taking £90,000 bets on So You Think and Await The Dawn, in addition to several £50,000 wagers.

Miller said: "As always, punters provide the best barometer of satisfaction and with slips and stakes both having risen this year, we can conclude that punters have fallen in love again with the Royal meeting.

"We accommodated a number of big-hitters, and turnover grew through every single one of our channels.

"We've seen strong takings on all the big meetings this year, but Royal Ascot has outperformed them all.

"It's been a great week."

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