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Are we looking at a Group 1 horse in a handicap? International Stakes insight

Motakhayyel storms clear in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket
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Saturday: 3.00 Ascot
Moet & Chandon International Stakes (Heritage Handicap) | 7f | 3yo+ | ITV/SKY

The median Racing Post Rating for all Group 1 winners in Britain and Ireland since the start of 2008 is 121 and Motakhayyel achieved that mark when landing the Bunbury Cup last time.

Motakhayyel blew away his 17 rivals by three and a half lengths under topweight off a BHA mark of 109 and is a Group 1 horse on that performance on RPRs. It’s not often a horse of such calibre lines up in a handicap, so is he the proverbial good thing or is he one to take on?

Purely on handicap ratings he might be a good thing. The BHA handicappers have put him up 9lb, but he carries just a 3lb penalty for that Newmarket win and is 6lb well in.

Motakhayyel represents the Shadwell Estate and so does Danyah, who is second topweight but gets 6lb from Motakhayyel. Dane O’Neill appears to have chosen Motakhayyel, though, and William Buick takes over on Danyah. He is 1-6 for the leading owners this year.

Aldaary completes a trio of Shadwell-owned horses and he was three places behind Danyah when the pair finished second and fifth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes over course and distance last month. Tom Marquand is booked for the William Haggas-trained Aldaary.

This will be only Marquand’s second ride for Shadwell this year but the first, Monhammer, finished a 17-2 second at Haydock and he was trained by Haggas.

Shadwell’s retained jockey Jim Crowley could have ridden any of the three had he been at Ascot, but he is off to York instead to partner Mohaafeth and that may be a tip in itself.

Nine of the last ten winners were drawn in double-figure stalls but percentage of rivals beaten (%RB) figures suggest a low draw isn’t a negative. After adjustments for non-runners, stalls one, two and five all have %RB figures higher than 55 per cent over the last ten seasons.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway


'Remarkable' Raising back for more

Raising Sand bids to become the first horse to win this handicap twice following his victory in 2019 and the forecast rain will enhance his chances of turning back the clock at the age of nine.

The senior runner in the field is joined by his stablemate Cliffs Of Capri who, in contrast, would see his chances diminish if the rain arrives in Berkshire before post time.

Raising Sand finished sixth at Royal Ascot last time and runs off a mark of 100, 3lb lower than when successful two years ago.

Raising Sand: returning to Ascot for a race he won in 2019

Trainer Jamie Osborne said: "Raising Sand is remarkable in that he’s nine but doesn’t appear to be deteriorating significantly. He hasn’t that many miles on the clock and if they get a drop of rain I expect him to run well as he loves Ascot."

On Cliffs Of Capri, he added: "He likes fast ground and ran against many of these in the Bunbury Cup when he finished seventh. I expect Motakhayyel to prove hard to beat again but we’ll give it a go."


What they say

Richard Hills, racing manager to Shadwell Estate, owners of Motakhayyel, Danyah and Aldaary
Motakhayyel is in great form having won consecutive runnings of the Bunbury Cup and must have a favourite's chance. He likes Ascot but if they get significant rain it may count against him. Danyah also likes Ascot and ran a great race to be second in the Buckingham Palace Stakes and must be in with a decent shout again. Aldaary finished a decent fifth in the same race and if the rain comes it will suit him.

Alastair Donald, racing manager to King Power Racing, owners of Shine So Bright
We tried different tactics last time and he flew home quite eyecatchingly. There's quite a lot of rain forecast, we don't want that for him and his chance will be determined by how much of it comes. If the ground stays good or better, he should run well.

Oisin Murphy, rider of Matthew Flinders
His run at Chester last time was very encouraging and I’m pleased to be back on him. I’m also pleased with his draw as he’s alongside the favourite Motakhayyel and if he relaxes he will have a big chance.

George Margarson, trainer of Ropey Guest
He’s drawn better than he was in the Bunbury Cup where he still managed to finish eighth and seems to be in a better place since. He won’t mind any rain.

Hugo Palmer, trainer of Acquitted
He needs rain to boost his chances and by all accounts he’s going to get it. He’s been knocking on the door and a stiff seven furlongs suits.

Clive Cox, trainer of Dance Fever
He won very well at Leicester and carries a 3lb penalty for that, but we expect him to run well again and hope the rain stays away.

Stuart Williams, trainer of Lord Rapscallion
If the favourite turns up in the same form we’re all playing for places but we go there with a decent shout and he’s pretty versatile regarding ground.

Joe Tuite, trainer of Kimifive
He ran a good race to be fifth in the Bunbury Cup and he’ll be fine on the ground unless there’s lots of rain.


Read a selection of Saturday previews . . .

Why big-race throwback Adayar has it all to prove in stellar King George

3.35 Ascot: Aidan O'Brien on Love's chances in the King George

3.15 York: Armory takes on promising Mohaafeth in Group 2

2.40 York: dual winner Flying Pursuit one of four runners for Easterby in Dash


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Motakhayyel is in great form having won consecutive runnings of the Bunbury Cup and must have a favourite's chance
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