How To Bet £20 on the first day of Royal Ascot 2018 - Lightning bolt can kick off the five days in style

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Mon 18 Jun 2018

Royal Ascot is a marathon rather than a sprint and it may pay to take a conservative approach on Tuesday with every race on the card laced with punting hazards.

We have grown accustomed to weighing up short-priced favourites on the opening day - last year there was Ribchester (11-10) and Churchill (1-2) for example - but this time around “bankers” (not that Churchill ended up being one) are thin on the ground.

Here is why my cash will be going.

2.30 Royal Ascot: Lightning Spear at a general 8-1:

The words “cliff”, “over” and “follow” spring to mind when it comes to me and Lightning Spear. It all started three years ago after backing the striking chestnut at fancy odds for the Royal Hunt Cup, only for him to miss the cut.

Of course, I got my money back on that occasion but most times supporting him has ended in tears, especially in his 13 Group One races when he has been beaten every time.

This is the weakest mile division for several years, though, and with no Tepin, Minding or Ribchester in opposition, his day in the sun is looming.

The seven-year-old looked desperately unlucky when pipped by Rhododendron in the Lockinge last time when there was a track bias and he ended up on the unfavoured side.

How he can be 8-1 to make up for previous near-misses at Ascot, when Rhododendron is a general 11-4, is beyond me.

3.40 Royal Ascot: Blue Point at a general 8-1:

I am keen to find a bet in the King’s Stand because the market leaders, Battaash and Lady Aurelia, who take up more than 50 per cent of the book, look vulnerable.

Battaash can be his own worst enemy, while Lady Aurelia has suffered three successive odds-on defeats and it has been a year since she showed her brilliant best.

Laying the pair is an option but the general 8-1 on offer about Blue Point makes more appeal.

He drops down to the minimum distance but he has bundles of toe - he is a course record holder over 6f at Ascot when beating Harry Angel - and his only defeat in three starts at the track was when a close third behind Caravaggio and Harry Angel in the Commonwealth Cup last year.

His poor run in Hong Kong last time is easy to forgive and Charlie Appleby has been drooling over his recent homework.

4.20 Royal Ascot: Tip Two Win at 11-2 with Ladbrokes:

In an interview with Racing UK last week, John Gosden suggested Tip Two Win should be 2-1 favourite for the St James’s Palace Stakes. Instead, his own colt, Without Parole, a workmanlike winner of a Listed race at Sandown last time, heads the market.

Gosden did not reveal his other tissue of prices but you can see his point because Tip Two Win split Saxon Warrior and subsequent Derby winner Masar in the 2,000 Guineas, with Roaring Lion, an incumbent at Clarehaven and subsequent runaway Dante winner, back in fifth.

That Newmarket form is easily the best on offer and, for all Tip Two Win went off at 50-1, there is no reason to doubt it. Indeed, you could even mark up the effort because jockey David Probert is adamant the willing colt did not handle the Dip.

5.00 Royal Ascot - Hassle at 40-1 with Ladbrokes:

Willie Mullins has won two of the past three runnings of the Ascot Stakes but working out which of his five challengers is his No 1 - as none of them bigger than 10-1 - is a tricky business.

Taking on the Mullins battalion clearly comes with risks attached but we are overdue a British-trained winner (the past four renewals have been won by Ireland) and Hassle is too tempting to resist at 40-1 with Ladbrokes (general 33-1 elsewhere).

He is a quirky customer who can run the odd stinker - as he did when trailing home last in this race two years ago - but his back catalogue includes several eye-catching efforts at the track and Dr Richard Newland, his Grand National-winning trainer, is brilliant at teeing one up for the big day.

Hassle hacked up over hurdles at Market Rasen a couple of weeks ago and, while this will be a different kettle of fish, should have put him spot on for this assignment under Luke Morris.

How To Bet £20 on day one of Royal Ascot:

2.30 Royal Ascot: Lightning Spear £3.50 win at a general 8-1

3.40 Royal Ascot: Blue Point £3 win at a general 8-1

4.20 Royal Ascot: Tip Two Win £3.50 win at 11-2 with Ladbrokes

5.00 Royal Ascot: Hassle £2 each-way at 40-1 with Ladbrokes

Plus a 50p Win Yankee and 25p each-way fourfold on above

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