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Andrew Mount’s Myth Busters – Follow James Doyle, Jamie Spencer and Hayley Turner in Royal Ascot Handicaps

Royal Ascot is just around the corner, and Andrew Mount trains his myth busting eye on three successful jockeys at the meeting: James Doyle, Jamie Spencer and Hayley Turner.

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It’s Royal Ascot next week and much attention will directed towards jockeys with a reputation for riding winners in the big-field handicaps, especially on the straight course. Those who can weave a passage from the back of the field and present their mounts to win on the line tend to get all the plaudits and three names usually get mentioned in this vein – James Doyle, Jame Spencer and Hayley Turner. We’ll often hear pundits say ‘Jamie Spencer rides the straight course at Ascot so well’ but these statements are rarely backed up with statistics, so I thought I’d delve a little deeper.

James Doyle

James Doyle has had 88 rides in handicaps at Royal Ascot but only two of those were successful…

…Belgian Bill at 33-1 in the 2013 Royal Hunt Cup (1m, straight) and Portage, who returned at 10-1 when landing the same race three years later. The expected number of winners based on the prices of his mounts was 5.03 given an actual over expected score of 0.40.

Jamie Spencer

Jamie Spencer’s 144 Royal Ascot handicap rides produced 11 winners (7.6% strike-rate) for a profit of £32.00 to a £1 level stake at SP (expected winners = 7.98, A/E = 1.38)…

…an A/E score greater than 1.0 shows that his rides exceeded market expectations. Splitting his rides by distance makes interesting reading…

…all his winners came over trips of 1m or shorter and all were on the straight course (he had one unsuccessful mount in the Kensington Palace Stakes, a relatively new handicap run over the round mile). Backing all of Spencer’s handicap rides on the straight course would have found 11 winners from 86 bets (12.6%) for a profit of £90.00 to a £1 level stake at SP (+£180.57 at Betfair SP after 2% commission). Last year, he only had four such rides and they included 50-1 winner Witch Hunter and 40-1 fifth Bless Him (most firms were paying five or more places).

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner has had far fewer rides in Royal Ascot handicaps than Doyle and Spencer but has a superior strike-rate…

…Turner drew a blank in the Royal Ascot handicaps for over a decade but has taken off in recent years…

…like Spencer all her winners have come on the straight course and, since 2019, she’s only had one ride in a Royal Ascot handicap over a trip in excess of 1m, Bronze River who ran eighth in the Golden Gates in 2020. Her 16 rides in the past five years returned a profit of £65.00 and she also had two places (66-1 and 22-1).

Listed below is the Royal Ascot handicap record, since 2019, of jockeys to have ridden at least two winners…

…Buick’s profit largely came from a 66-1 winner in Reshoun, but Neil Callan (winners at 40-1 and 20-1 from just five rides) is a name that could go under the radar next week.

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