There’s a new running order and some extra races for the behind-closed-doors Royal Ascot 2020, including this race which was last seen in 2015 and gives the handicappers a chance to race over seven furlongs.
We’ll have a full field of 24 and many will be considered to be ahead of the assessor, so picking out a top six wasn’t the easiest task, however this half-dozen horses are all solid for various reasons.
Always seen as a potential Group race performer for John Gosden, this four-year-old son of Tamayuz has only had four meaningful races in his life and has a lot more to give yet.
While also a winner at Kempton, his three best performances arguably have come on the stiffer track at Newcastle and they will have stood him in good stead as far as this test goes.
Showing speed to win a six-furlong novice there in late 2018, Daarik returned last Easter to tackle the one-mile Burradon Stakes in which he finished a good second behind Fox Power, with Queen Anne entry Marie’s Diamond back in fourth.
The trip won’t have been ideal and he suffered a slight setback, but he returned to Newcastle ten days ago when landing a strong seven-furlong handicap in very good style. He has a top season ahead of him.
This six-year-old is trained by Archie Watson and he should be spot-on for this event. Relatively lightly-raced for his age, Glen Shiel was runner-up to the clearly well-handicapped Mubakker at Newcastle upon the return of racing earlier in the month over six and he will not be found wanting for pace or fitness.
Well drawn on the near side for William Muir, this one is only a four-year-old and so there remains the possibility of improvement, although he has had plenty of racing and seems to have flattened out in his form just a tad.
That said, he has done very well at Ascot before over six furlongs and so possesses pace, yet he won over seven at Newmarket recently which gives more than a little hope that he’ll still be plugging on when others have given up.
Despite being a six-year-old this horse absolutely has to be considered a huge danger. The booking of Oisin Murphy by Nigel Tinkler is an obvious plus, as is his course and distance form which totals a close third in the Victoria Cup and a head second in the International Handicap.
He’s fit having had a run at Newcastle, but given how far he was beaten by Daarik it seems he may have to play second-fiddle although his day will surely come at this course.
The choice of Jim Crowley from a bunch of Sheikh Hamdan horses, Motakhayyel is a very lightly-raced four-year-old who is clearly heading upwards.
Wins at Doncaster and Newmarket are his highlights so far and he is well drawn, however his wins have been in small fields and he was down the field when sent to Ascot last summer although he clearly suffered some kind of injury as he’s been off ever since.
He’s obviously talented, but first time back after a long break and in this field, he may well be taken off his feet a little early on by which time his winning chance may well have disappeared.
Another Hamdan Al Maktoum four-year-old, Roger Varian’s runner comes into this season on a five-timer having landed four wins in a row last year, admittedly in smaller races.
Again, he will improve and he has a win at Newmarket to his name, but given his form so far and considering sons of Dubawi tend to get quicker as they get older it seems that attempting to see out this particular seven furlongs first time out may just prove to be too much in such a competitive environment.
I’m always loathe to criticise jockeys, it’s done too much, but Jim Crowley has got it wrong several times in the past. The most notable example is when he chose Muthmir in the 2017 Coral Charge as Dane O’Neill was left to take the ride on Battaash, who promptly broke the track record!
Having chosen Motakhayyel he may be left with the same feeling, Ascot hero Frankie Dettori instead taking the mount on DAARIK who looks particularly well handicapped and is backed.
Kaeso looks solid and it will be interesting to see how well Mutamaasik gets on in what could be a veritable benefit for the Shadwell horses.