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Motakhayyel leads hunt for International honours

Motakhayyel heads Shadwell Estate’s three-pronged attack, along with Danyah and Aldaary, on the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.

The five-year-old, trained by Richard Hannon, was impressive when recording the second of his back-to-back victories in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago.

However, he has to defy top weight of 9st 13lb on Saturday, including a 3lb penalty for his three-and-a-half-length demolition of 17 rivals.

“He was incredibly impressive the other day, with a lot of weight on his back,” said Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold.

“He killed the race, and it was probably his best ever run. Let’s hope he can back it up.

“He’s obviously got a lot of weight again – but he’s a star horse and has been an absolute gem for us.”

Danyah ran a good race when runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track
Danyah was runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track (Dan Abraham/PA)

Danyah, trained by Owen Burrows, has been placed in three big handicaps this season, the latest coming in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in which he was second to Highfield Princess.

Gold said: “He’s very consistent. He ran a good race at the Royal meeting and deserves to win a big one.

“He wouldn’t mind a drop of rain if that appeared on Saturday. He’s a nice, solid horse.”

The William Haggas-trained Aldaary was not thought to be at his best when only fifth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.

“He looked a really progressive horse last year,” said Gold.

“He won his first two starts very impressively, both on soft ground – (but) I don’t think he necessarily needs that.

“With hindsight, I think William and his team felt he wasn’t quite bouncing at the Royal meeting. He didn’t run a bad race. We just feel he’s a bit better than that.

“William has freshened him up, and he worked very well the other day. Let’s see how he gets on. There was talk of going to Goodwood, but William feels at the moment seven furlongs is probably the right trip for him.”

Dance Fever returned to form with victory at Leicester, on his second start following 11 months off the track.

The Clive Cox-trained four-year-old has a 3lb penalty for that success, but connections are expecting a good show as long as any rain showers are not too heavy.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him run,” said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds.

“He’s only 3lb higher than when he won at Leicester last time, and the form has been boosted since.

“We always thought he’s well handicapped, but he’s never had any luck with the weather. It always seems to rain when we want to run him in a big one.

“There are thunderstorms forecast. A bit of rain would be fine, (but) we wouldn’t want a washout.

“He’s handicapped to go close. He was meant to have a run before Royal Ascot – but it was so wet in May we couldn’t run him, and Ascot was a case of blowing the cobwebs away.

“He clearly needed it more than we expected him to, and it was good to see him back next time.

“He’s near the fancied horses. Hopefully he’ll go really well. He ran well at this meeting last year. We’ll be very hopeful he’ll be competitive, as long as the ground doesn’t turn soft.”

Hugo Palmer would like to see some rain for Acquitted.

“He’s been threatening to win one of these big handicaps, and I think he’s got one in him,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“He’d need rain to run, but that does look probable. We just don’t know how much.

“Good ground, we’ve absolutely no problem. If it stays good to firm he won’t run.”

Charlie Appleby is optimistic New Science can put his poor Royal Ascot run on soft ground behind him, with a big performance in the Pat Eddery Stakes.

The Lope De Vega colt was only seventh behind Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes, but had looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut at Yarmouth in May.

He had Reach For The Moon a length and a half in second place that day, and that horse occupied the same position in the Chesham, just half a length behind the winner.

“He was disappointing, but it was very soft ground at Ascot last time,” said Appleby.

“John’s (Gosden) horse (Reach For The Moon) went on to finish second in the Chesham, and we finished down the field, but William (Buick) said he wasn’t happy even going to post on the ground.

“We’ve put a line through it. His homework has been good since – I’m pleased with his preparation, and if he can bounce back to his Yarmouth maiden form he’s a major player.”

Opposition includes the Tom Dascombe-trained Mr McCann, who was fourth in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, George Boughey’s Cachet, third in Newmarket’s Empress Stakes, and smooth Salisbury scorer Like A Lion, trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick.

Motakhayyel bounds to Bunbury victory

Motakhayyel looked the proverbial Group horse in a handicap when landing back-to-back victories in the bet365 Bunbury Cup at Newmarket.

Already a dual winner on the July Course for trainer Richard Hannon – including in this race 12 months ago – the Shadwell Estate-owned five-year-old was a well-backed 11-2 chance to land the £100,000 contest for a second time in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Stepping down in class after finishing second in the Group Three Criterion Stakes over the course and distance last month, Motakhayyel travelled like a dream before bounding three and a half lengths clear, with Fundamental best of the rest in second.

Hannon said: “He’s a gentleman of a horse and has been for years. He’s such a pleasure to have around.

“He’s struggled between a rock and a hard place in handicaps and Listed races. He ran a very good race here in the Criterion and I watched the race today on the same TV I watched it on last year.

“He’s in the mile race at Goodwood and we’ll speak to Angus (Gold) and Richard (Hills) and see what they want to do.”

Frankie Dettori with trainer Richard Hannon in the Newmarket winner's enclosure
Frankie Dettori with trainer Richard Hannon in the Newmarket winner’s enclosure (Tim Goode/PA)

Dettori, riding his first winner of this year’s July Festival, said: “He took me by surprise – I still had a double handful two out and he kept finding.

“Richard told me Jim (Crowley, owners’ retained rider) was going to York and I couldn’t do the weight for John (Gosden, trainer of Fundamental). Richard told me to get on this horse as he loves Newmarket and he was right.

“I didn’t expect him to win like he did. He’s a very long horse with a long stride and I’m not sure he’d enjoy turning tracks.”