Royal Ascot is nearly upon is. It’s one of the festivals that I always study with keen enthusiasm. Sure, it’s not in Canada, but indulge me as we hop across the pond to take a look at some of the key races.

This year promises to be a strong event, with even the bookmakers struggling to pick out short-priced favourites in most races. This means there’s plenty of value to be found, if we just do the digging.

Queen Anne Stakes

The Queen Anne Stakes is looking like an exceptionally difficult race to predict this year. Most sites offering sports betting in Canada are putting the top four horses at similar odds. At the time of writing, Inspiral is just in front at 3s, with Charyn right behind at 4s, Facteur Cheval at 7/2, and Big Rock at 6/1. There’s seemingly very little to choose between them. However, I think we can discount Big Rock. Though he’s had some good runs in his time, including his win in Ascot last October, he was seriously disappointing last time out, running for his new yard for the first time.

Big Rock did beat Facteur Cheval to the post on that last win, but Facteur Cheval took a very keen hold early on and since, they’ve let the horse take the lead early, which he seems to like. He won his last race (The Group 1 Dubai Turf) grimly, but he was faced with an extra furlong, which he won’t have to deal with in this race. Charyn seems to be the main concern, but Facteur Cheval has already finished ahead of him in the Sussex Stakes last year, where the pair took second and third, respectively. Incidentally, both well beaten by a truly unstoppable Paddington.

Inspiral has been well beaten by Charyn on several occasions and personally, I don’t find him good value at 3s. So, for me, the best bet is Facteur Cheval. If you can get 7/2 then he seems value that’s too good to miss.

Rebel’s Romance

Ascot is a joy each and every year, but last year saw a particularly low number of favorites make it past the post first. In fact, one of Ascot’s longest-priced winners in history romped home at 150/1 to take the Norfolk Stakes – Valiant Force. I’m not going to tip you a 150/1 shot, but I am going to oppose both the first and second favorites (Continuous and Middle Earth) to suggest a bet on Rebel’s Romance.

This horse has incredible form over a mile and four furlongs, having won his last four outings. They were no small races either, the most recent Group 1 races, and the two prior a Group 3 and a good quality listed race. With Charlie Appleby training and Godolphin as owners, there are no worries to be had there. Plus, his two main competitors (according to the bookmakers) aren’t specialists over 1m4f. Both have won over this distance, but both are at their best over 1m6f. While Rebel’s Romance will be one of the older contestants in the race at six years old, for me, this isn’t enough to suggest he’ll give way for two horses that prefer a couple of furlongs further.

The Gold Cup

While I mentioned that the bookmakers hadn’t selected any short priced favourites for Royal Ascot yet, I told a small lie, Kyprios is even money to win the Gold Cup – and I can’t disagree with them. He’s likely to win, though at even money, I don’t think it represents brilliant value. However, there’s plenty of each way value to be found in this race, which is what I’m banking on.

Caius Chorister is my each-way pick for The Gold Cup. She used to be a bit of a 1m4f specialist, back in her three-year-old year. In her four-year old year, she had a bit of a wobble as it seemed she was never quite up to speed by the time the other’s crossed the line. Sensibly, trainer David Meneusier stepped her up in trip and things improved. She won a good Group 3 Race (Prix Belle de Nuit) by an impressive four lengths, really making it look like she wanted every inch of the 1m6f distance.

Her only two runs this year have both been over two miles and both finished in a second place. However, she’s taken a keen hold on both, and only been beaten by a head. I’d have dearly loved to see how these might have turned out if they’d been a couple of furlongs further, as she’s got the grit for a long battle. For me, Caius Chorister is currently a terrific value each way bet at 12/1. She’s unlikely to known Kyprios off his perch, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her come home in second.