Royal Hunt Cup Tips: Back this duo in hugely competitive handicap

Check out our Royal Hunt Cup preview here
Check out our Royal Hunt Cup preview here

One of the toughest betting heats of the entire week is the Royal Hunt Cup, which takes place at 17:00 on Wednesday evening, and our man Steve Chambers has been given the unenviable task of trying to find the winner of the one mile handicap contest...

Sir Michael Stoute last trained the winner of this event back in 2000 when Caribbean Monarch stormed to glory and the Freemason Lodge handler will unleash a leading player in the shape of 8/1 favourite Astro King, who was a fine runner-up behind the runaway winner Real World last season, and the five-year-old will attempt to go one better in the 2022 renewal. He's 4lbs higher in the handicap this season, so he will have a tougher task on his hands, and he was a slight disappointment last time out when ninth in the Thirsk Hunt Cup, so he will need to bounce back to form here, and in such a competitive event can be bypassed.

Charles Hills trained Afaak to glory three years ago and he will saddle a leading contender in the shape of DARK SHIFT, who has a tremendous record at Ascot (won 3 of 5) and he was last seen bounding to victory at Nottingham on his prep for this event. Having been victorious at Ascot off a mark of 84 last season he then followed up off 9 at the Berkshire venue a month later, but he failed to land the hat-trick on his comeback run when 11th in the Victoria Cup. He hung left that day, which ruined his chance, but he was back to his best by winning impressively at Nottingham, and with a 5lb penalty to carry in the Royal Hunt Cup he looks a superb bet at 9/1. He will need to continue on an upward curve now handed his toughest test to date, but he's shaped like he could still be ahead of the handicapper and looks the most likely winner.

Another progressive performer working his way up the handicap is Legend Of Dubai, who heads to the Royal meeting on the back of wins at Ffos Las and Newmarket, and the beautifully bred son of Dubawi will look to make it three wins on the spin here. However, he's been handed a monstrous 11lbs rise by the handicapper for his recent successes, so he's going to find it tough in what is a much harder race.

Having picked out some eye-catchers at the bottom of the handicap, there are also some huge players at the top of it and Magical Morning will have the burden of top weight here and the John & Thady Gosden-trained 14/1 chance was eight in this contest 12 months ago, while ended last season finishing third in the Balmoral Handicap. A comfortable winner at Doncaster last time out, he's certainly one of the proven classiest performers in the field, so has to be respected.

A former Balmoral Handicap winner, Escobar has some top form at Ascot and he has to be watched around the 33/1 mark, as he drops down to handicap company from Group level, and while he finished 17th in this event last year he has shown to be a class act on a going day.

An impressive winner at Epsom last time out, George Boughey's Totally Charming will look to step up again, and has to be respected at 12/1, while the likes of Rebel Territory and Greatgadian (both 20/1) head to Ascot on the back of victories and will be looking to continue on a steep incline.

One huge priced contender that could run well is the Roger Varian-trained FANTASTIC FOX, who finished behind Totally Charming at Epsom last time out, but he was staying on eye-catchingly well, and he runs off the same mark of 98 here. The son of Frankel will need to put up a career best to play a notable role here, but with six and seven places available with some bookmakers then the 33/1 is very appealing in what is a cracking renewal.

Royal Hunt Cup
Dark Shift silk

Dark Shift

Royal Hunt Cup
Fantastic Fox silk

Fantastic Fox (EW)

Royal Ascot Odds
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