Royal Hunt Cup: Afaak To Go One Better in Hunt Cup

Royal Hunt Cup: Afaak To Go One Better in Hunt Cup

5.00 Ascot

On paper this is a nightmare of a race to attempt to whittle down to six or so runners, but we have to be brutal when culling some of these no matter their profile.

Those drawn high have done best in this race in recent times and on this occasion the majority of the speed is middle-to-high for sure, so those with a high cruising speed who like to be held-up and are drawn on the far side of the track can grab a significant advantage and this is what we’ve concentrated on when choosing this half dozen:


Last year’s runner-up is a standing dish in big-field handicaps and he could be better than ever this year.  While not ready to run until now, he has been gelded over the winter and is said to be ready to improve which makes him a huge player off the same handicap mark as last year (103).

His price is rather ridiculous which makes him an each-way betting prospect for sure, and if he were to win this Charlie Hills may eventually have to bite the bullet and put him into Listed or Group company, but one step at a time.


A nine-year-old former John Gosden horse; he has only got better in recent times with his latest run the best of his career, a Class 2 handicap win at Newbury.

Conditions should be fine for him and as a winner last time and a third in the Lincoln, it seems the big field atmosphere and strong pace will be right up his street and in Graham Lee he won’t want for help from the saddle.

New Graduate

James Tate’s has to be included simply because of the weight of money having come for him in advance of the race, as well as his trainer’s very bullish public comments about the 4yo.

His win at Ripon was impressive and he may well be a Group horse running in a handicap, so for sure he is a possible winner of this race but he is not without his negatives and therefore his price is far too skinny.

He’s drawn in 1, which may be against him, his wins have been achieved in slower/smaller races and while Tate is an admirable and capable trainer, his building his horses up publicly and backing them is not out of the ordinary and so in itself is not a sign of how certain this horse is to win.


Another four-year-old with improvement to come, Brian Meehan’s gelding won the Spring Mile at Doncaster and was a close fourth behind Breden last time, so he’s been competing in the right races.

He may need the ground to dry right out to show his best and his rider Martin Dwyer will need to make the right choice from his middle draw on who to track, but overall, he seems a solid candidate in with a place chance.

Raising Sand

Jamie Osborne has had a strange couple of weeks but it would all be rounded off nicely if he could get this seven-year-old’s head in front.

A winner in October and a fine fourth in May at Ascot in valuable handicaps over seven furlongs, he’ll need to produce more over the mile but did run well in this race last year when finishing 7th (beaten four lengths) when not drawn terribly well.


John Gosden has proven time again that he is not just about Group 1 types and he has a very live contender in the shape of this Raven’s Pass gelding.

This is only the tenth run of his life and we can’t even accurately assess how much improvement there is to come, so despite an average return to the track at Newmarket after his operation we can expect him to far outperform his handicap mark of 98 from stall 25 under Rab Havlin.


New Graduate may end up with so much in hand that his draw doesn’t matter, but on all known evidence we could not take sub-5/1 about him.  Breden and Petrus are rock solid while Stylehunter could yet be a Group horse who looks very much overpriced, but we can’t ignore the crack handicapper here.

AFAAK has seen it all and done it all in this company and yet can himself still improve.  He’s drawn in the right place and will love this race, so at a general 25/1 is a great each-way punt.

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