ASCOT stages a number of seven furlong heritage handicaps during the season and the Moet & Chandon International Stakes (3.00pm) is as competitive as they come.
In the past 10 years, winners have been priced at 20/1, 25/1, 33/1 (twice) and 50/1, so it’s a race where it can pay to look beyond the obvious.
However, the first place to start has to be Motakhayyel who put in an unbelievable performance to win the Bunbury Cup by 3½ lengths off a mark of 109 just a fortnight ago.
That was one of the best handicap performances in recent memory and with just a 3lb penalty he cannot be ruled out.
Despite winning at Royal Ascot last year, I just have a feeling that Newmarket’s July Course suits him a bit better.
My first selection, CLIFFS OF CAPRI, absolutely loves it at Ascot and was a decent seventh in the aforementioned Bunbury Cup.
He has won twice and never finished outside the first five places in six runs over this course and distance.
He was second to Blue Mist in this race 12 months ago and is now on a 2lb lower mark so the handicapper has given him a chance.
He looks a really solid each-way bet at 16/1 and should also be added to any World Pool Quinellas or Swingers with Tote.co.uk.
My other suggestion is Ralph Beckett’s STAR OF ORION, one of only two three-year-olds in the line-up, at around the 12/1 mark.
The son of Footstepsinthesand reappeared with a disappointing effort in the Britannia at Royal Ascot, but a gelding operation and the drop back to seven furlongs did the trick at Newmarket last weekend.
Laura Pearson claims 5lbs which means he will carry just 8st and he may well prove to be too well-handicapped.
If you’re looking for another to put in a World Pool Swinger, then I would add SHINE SO BRIGHT to the mix.
He was another who ran well in the Bunbury Cup a couple of weeks ago, where hold-up tactics seemed to suit him better.
Andrew Balding’s five-year-old won a Group Two back in 2019 and he is bound to land a decent pot at some point this season.
Star Of Orion e/w 3.00pm Ascot
Cliffs Of Capri e/w 3.00pm Ascot
Swinger: Star Of Orion, Cliffs Of Capri, Shine So Bright