The summer spectacle of the British summer’s flat racing season, this year’s five-day festival is scheduled to get underway from 14th-18th June. Already the leading UK bookmakers are readying their bet promotions to enable first-time and regular punters to place risk-free wagers across the festival. Multiple Group 1 race-winner Home Affairs is one of the prime candidates to make the trip, along with stable mate Nature Strip.
Together, this pair of Australian sprinting superstars have won no less than ten Group 1 races between them, and they have their eyes fixed firmly on breaking new ground in the UK. Home Affairs and Nature Strip have earnt Waller and connections a total of AU$20m in prize money thus far and already they are being fancied to challenge for some big prize purses at the 2022 Royal Ascot.
When it was first announced that the pair would be entering into this year’s Royal Ascot, both horses were listed on the ante-post betting markets for the opening-day race – the King’s Stand Stakes – and the Platinum Jubilee Stakes four days later. However, Waller has confirmed he is highly unlikely to pit his stable mates against one another in the same race.
Instead, Waller is likely to enter Nature Strip into the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes, with Home Affairs targeted for the six-furlong Platinum Jubilee Stakes. Both of which are Group 1 races and some of the most eagerly anticipated throughout the five-day event. Waller told the Daily Telegraph that he is “leaning towards” Nature Strip in the slightly shortened race.
In the ante-post markets, Nature Strip is typically priced at 5-1 with many of the leading UK bookmakers for the King’s Stand Stakes. Meanwhile Home Affairs has seen his ante-post odds slashed as low as 4-1 in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes.
The Aussie contingent is also set to be joined by Grade 1 sprint winner Artorius, with co-trainer Sam Freedman confirming that he would be trialled “down the straight” alongside Home Affairs and Nature Strip to decide his most suitable trip, but the Platinum Jubilee Stakes is what the Australian press seem to believe will be Artorius’ ideal race.
900-metre jump-outs completed at Rosehill
As part of their build-up to Royal Ascot, Waller entered Home Affairs and Nature Strip into 900m jump-outs at Rosehill. The pair “didn’t go together” according to their trainer, with Waller stating they used other stable mates and sprinters from other stables to help them go “through their motions”. Waller added that the duo “weren’t pushed to run time” but were gently asked to go “through their paces”.
Waller confirmed that he plans to ensure Home Affairs and Nature Strip can spend at least a fortnight in England acclimatising to their surroundings until Royal Ascot, describing two weeks as the “sweet spot” for enabling them to recover from their lengthy trip. Waller believes this would also give the duo ample time to get “some work” into their legs to ensure they are in race condition.
Other contenders for the King’s Stand Stakes and Platinum Jubilee Stakes
While the odds for Nature Strip continue to shorten ahead of the King’s Stand Stakes, it looks like it will be going head-to-head with Golden Pal for this Group 1 race. Golden Pal is as short as 15/8 with some UK bookmakers, making him the pre-race favourite in the current ante-post market.
As for the ante-post market for the Platinum Jubilee Stakes, this looks like being a much more open affair. Home Affairs is certainly the pre-race favourite at present, with his odds being cut to 9-2 and 4-1 with most UK bookmakers. US-trained and Irish-bred Campanelle is another that’s hotly tipped, priced at 6-1 after her win in the Queen Mary Stakes in 2020. Meanwhile the Godolphin-owned Creative Force is also priced at 9-1 having developed a reputation as one of the finest sprinters in Europe.