Famous old Ascot has both a round and a straight track for Flat racing.
The round track, the Old Mile Course, is a right-handed turf course which is around one mile, six furlongs in length and features a stiff uphill finish.
The straight mile joins the round course at Swinley Bottom, only two and a half furlongs from the finish line.
The straight course arguably has more of a draw bias, on which some mile races and all 5-furlong, 6-furlong and 7-furlong events are run.
See Also: Ascot Racecourse Guide
Ascot Course Draw Bias Overview
The draw is generally not a major deal on the round course at Ascot. On the rare occasions that you find a large field over a mile or a mile and a quarter, a wide (high) draw is not great. A lot depends on how your horse likes to run.
If they like to sit deep, a wide draw won’t make much difference. If your horse starts wide and needs to get to the front, it may well use up a lot of petrol getting there from a high stall. Over middle and staying distances, many horses win at Ascot on the round course from high draws.
The draw bias is much more prevalent on the straight course. A so-called “Golden Highway” has often shown itself on the straight course, that being right down the stands side helping those coming from high number stalls.
Some horses win from lower draws on the far side, but that is down to their ability meaning you cannot rely on stats alone. When the rain comes, the far side (low numbers) do show up better on the straight course.
In either case, pace is very important. If the pace is even, the near side will often hold an advantage on the straight track. If all of the quicker horses are on the far side, then that can negate the stands side advantage somewhat.
This is also affected by the stalls position. If there are only 10-15 runners for example and the stalls are on the far side, then the runners will migrate to that rail and those drawn low may have an advantage. If the stalls are on the stands side, high numbers may hold sway.
If the stalls are placed in the middle of what is a very wide track, we are in the lap of the gods as we cannot know what the jockeys decide to do in terms of where the race pans out.
5 Furlongs at Ascot
It’s important to remember that the draw bias at Ascot over five furlongs won’t be as prevalent. That is because the race will be over in a minute and those racing on the better ground may not have time to take advantage of their starting position.
That said, the near side on good or fast ground will tend to be better but we are more reliant on where the pace is over this distance than over any other.
6 Furlongs at Ascot
Many will look for a Stewards’ Cup draw bias as the runners are strewn across the track. The near side on better ground is the place to be in general, though over six furlongs it’s still important to see where the pace horses are as they offer a really good tow into the race for those in with a major chance.
7 Furlongs at Ascot
In the ‘long sprints’, we should start to see more of an advantage for the near side horses (high draw) as long as the ground is OK. Naturally, this is based on a full or near-full field. If there aren’t many runners, the stalls position plays a big part.
Even in larger fields, if the rain comes and the ground gets soft then over seven furlongs those on the far side (low numbers) can do well.
One Mile (Straight) at Ascot
Once more, when the ground is softer the far side can come into it more. That means keeping an eye on the low numbers, who is fancied from there and whether there is enough pace on that side.
On better ground and with full fields, the near side is almost always better. The Royal Hunt Cup draw bias has been evident for a while.
Another good example of the stands side (high numbers) being best comes from the 2021 Duke of Cambridge Stakes. The jockeys chose to race up the middle, while Frankie Dettori had all the room in the world to come right to the near side rail on Indie Angel to streak away and win the race easily.
One-Mile and Over on Ascot’s Round Course
There is a tightish bend, only 2½ furlongs from the finish at Ascot leading to an uphill finish. With that, runners don’t want to be going wide. To stop that happening, a low draw is best for horse to get into position early on.
Over 1m4f and over, the draw has a very minimal impact in all races at Ascot.