Hill's open betting on Ascot's prestigious handicaps...
Entries are out for two of the most prestigious handicaps in the racing calendar, the Wokingham stakes and the Royal Hunt Cup.
The Wokingham, established in 1813 is the oldest race at the renowned Ascot meeting write William Hill's Joe Goldring.
Originally, the race was divided into three separate divisions and it wasn't until 1874 that it became a single handicap.
The entry for the 6f handicap renewal this year is long and competitive, and the same trainers who have enjoyed success seem to be targeting the race once again.
William Haggas bids to retain the race having been victorious with the smart High Standing last year and relies on just the one entry, Bonnie Charlie. High Standing went on to prove his credentials in group company, notably finishing runner up to the likes of Regal Parade in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock, whilst Haggas was third in 2008 with King's Apostle who went on to win the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.
With Haggas's previous entries going on to bigger and better things, it is no surprise that Hills have taken few chances with Bonnie Charlie and have installed the 104 rated colt at 20/1 in their initial lists.
Another trainer to have enjoyed success in the event is Richard Hannon, who in both 1990 and 1994 won the race with Venture Capitalist and Knight of Mercy respectively and has an entry for Listed winner Edge Closer, who is featuring prominently in the betting at 20/1 as well.
Year after year, the veteran handicappers, come back to woo the public in these valuable sprints and such a horse is Knot in Wood for Richard Fahey. Having run in the last three Wokingham's and placed in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, is a respectable 25/1 chance this year.
Other notable entries include the last year's third Rock of Rochelle (25/1), Kevin Ryan's sprint campaigner Advanced, and the Godolphin trained Ancien Regime, winner of a Group 3 and bidding to go one better than last year's runner up Asset.
The Royal Hunt Cup over Ascots straight mile is similar to the Wokingham in its quality and quantity.
Another big field handicap, it was first run in 1843 and interestingly is one of only three trophies at the meeting, along with the Gold Cup and the Queen Vase, which are presented by the Queen.
The Hunt Cup is always highly sought after, with the likes of Jeremy Noseda, Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden providing recent winners.
Jeremy Noseda conquered the showpiece last year with Forgotten Voice, who went on to compete in Group 1 races most notably the Sussex stakes at Goodwood, and the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. Noseda holds three entries this year, Stoic and Himalya were both installed as 25-1 chances with Hills, whilst last year's winners Forgotten Voice is a 16-1 shot.
Another trainer not to be ignored in handicaps is Luca Cumani, although, unusually, the Hunt Cup seems to have eluded the master of Bedford House.
This year Cumani bids to alter this with a handful of entries in Acrostic (16/1 - Hills), Axiom (25/1) Fortei Dei Marmi (16/1) and Mabait the current 10/1 favourite for the race in front of recent Victoria Cup winner Dandy Boy at 12/1.
Huzzah is also worthy of note, having finished a close second in last years race and having been out of form this season returns off a 10lb lower mark. He has been installed as a 33/1 shot while popular campaigner taking his chances once again is the Jamie Osborne trained Doc of the Bay (second to Mr Aviator back in 2008), and a 16/1 with Hills to go one better.
Joe Goldring, spokesman for William Hill, said: "Bookies love and hate the Wokingham never. Annually it turns into one of the biggest betting handicaps, of the season, but all too often a potential group horse is unleashed which punishes the layers. We currently make Enact and Ingleby Lady joint 12/1 favourites for the race, and entries for Enact looks like he could move on to bigger and better things after the Wokingham. Ingleby Lady looks relatively unexposed and open to improvement, whilst the Hunt Cup looks like a wide open contest. But, Luca Cumani catches the eye this year, looking for that elusive first win of the race and the likes of Mabait could easily be half that price if punters latch on to him. currently 10/1 favourite."
Thanks to Joe Goldring for providing this piece.
Wokingham Handicap: 12-1 Enact, Ingleby Lady, 14-1 Johannes, Kaldoun Kingdom, 16/1 Al Khaleej, Bagamoyo, Genki, Jimmy Styles, Masamah, Redford, 20/1 Bonnie Charlie, Brae Hill, Edge Closer, Hawkeyethenoo, Hitchens, Laddies Poker Two, Medicean Man, Palace Moon, Rain Delayed, Wildcat Wizard, 25-1 BAR (1/4 ODDS A PLACE E/W 1,2,3,4)
Royal Hunt Cup: 10-1 Mabait, 12-1 Dandy Boy, 14-1 Fareer, Riggins, 16-1 Acrostic, Al Khaleej, Balcarce Nov, Bangalore Gold, Docofthebay, Forgotten Voice, Fortei Dei Marmi, Last Three Minutes, 20/1 BAR (1/4 odds a place)