There will be plenty of big decisions to be made when it comes to selecting your Royal Ascot Ten To Follow stable, none more so than whether to include a number of big guns in your 10.
Leaving out a hot favourite can of course go both ways. Should they get beat (perhaps by a left-field selection in your stable) and the points differential can be fantastic.
However if they do the business and you’re not with them, it can be a long way back if missing out on 50+ points that more stables than not have picked up.
We have looked at four of the top horses in the antepost lists for Royal Ascot.
The most-picked horse in the overall competition, being selected by 80% of stables, it looks as though John Gosden’s colt is going to be the first name on many a player’s shortlist.
While the St James’s Palace Stakes was billed as a Wichita versus Pinatubo match last year, he simply brushed them away under an inspired Frankie Dettori ride.
Since then he’s barely looked back, a defeat in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day aside, with two easy victories already this season.
His opponents here don’t look up to a huge amount, unless Breeders’ Cup winner Order Of Australia improves again, so he will be supremely tough to beat. With that in mind he’s a must have, with the vast majority of stables likely to include him, it’d be foolish to fall behind so early on.
There were whispers earlier in the year that Charlie Hills’ speedster mightn’t be fit in time for the Royal meeting, but connections have quickly quashed those rumours, stating he’ll be ready to defend his title.
Glass Slippers who looked likely to be his main danger has been taken out of the race, while Oxted has question marks dropping back to 5f, and Liberty Beach has been beaten by the ‘Bat Mobile’ twice already.
The American duo of Maven and Extravagant Kid look the potential flies in the ointment, but it’s hard to be too much against the four-time Group 1 winner. He was only selected by 27% of stables in the overall game, so there’s a chance he could be underestimated in the game once again.
Another selected by fewer than a third of stables for the overall game, yet currently favourite for one of the big races with the antepost markets, Lord North is another that’ll pose a selection headache.
Last year’s winner of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes was very impressive in this race last year and looked as good as ever when landing a Group 1 in Meydan last time out.
Rather than his own ability that’s the problem, it’s the potential inclusion of Love in the field next Wednesday. Should she line up, Aidan O’Brien’s wonder filly would no doubt be picked by a huge number of players (she’s in 74% of overall stables), and would pose a big threat to Gosden’s charge.
That being said, just one horse has won this race first time out in the last 30 years so she’s no certainty if she turns up. This might be the race to double-up when it comes to the pursuit of Royal Ascot bonus points.
The first of our bonus races where we won’t know the declarations until after the stable deadline, there’s plenty of risk attached when it comes to picking a Gold Cup horse.
Stradivarius has been untouchable in this race in recent years, winning the last three, but other than his run here, last year was a bit disappointing with connections trying him over shorter before a flop on Champions Day.
This time round though, he has at least two horses you could see causing him real problems. Trueshan did just that, for all that John Gosden’s chestnut had excuses, last October when routing the field in the Group 2.
Subjectivist is the other potential spoiler for Stradivarius, improving no end for Mark Johnston before taking the Dubai Gold Cup in March. That pair offer enough competition to give Ten To Follow players a real option should they take on the would be four-time Gold Cup winner.
Yeats is the only horse older than six to have won this race since 1994, and while you can talk about Stradivarius in the same breath, it’s a big ask.
The Tote Ten To Follow Royal Ascot Mini Game is now open, with players having until midday on Tuesday 15th June to submit their stables.
Will you choose to include all the big guns for your stable? Or will one or two not make the cut? Remember, you can enter as many stables as possible.