Ayaar Going International At Ascot
Saturday’s International Stakes at Ascot (3.15) is one of the most anticipated handicaps to be staged on the famous straight throughout the season, and one in which plenty of course winners return to do battle once more.
One such runner who likes this straight course is Field Of Dream (16/1), who made it two course victories in landing the Royal Hunt Cup last month (1m, good to firm). This likable 7yo went over 1l clear that day, and has to be considered once more having also won this race in 2013.
Field Of Dream is a 7yo, however, which goes against the grain of each of the past 10 International winners who were 4-5yo’s, though one who does fit that band is Luca Cumani’s, Ayaar (10/1). This 4yo was only 3l behind Field Of Dream here last time, but may have finished closer but for a blocked path. Fast ground also suits Ayaar, and with the forecast set to stay dry, he’ll have favoured conditions.
Of the last 10 International winners…
10 were 4-5yo’s – others were 0-68
10 had 1-4 runs at Ascot
10 had 4-25 handicap runs; 7 had 4-10 handicap runs (9%)
10 had same mark or 6lb more from last time
9 had 1-4 handicap wins
8 same Class 2 last time (5%) – others were 2-78 (2%)
6 down from 1m last time (12%) – others were 4-188 (2%)
Ayaar will need a decent draw, though, as there has been a bias towards high numbers on the straight course this season, which was also the case when Gabriel’s Lad (12/1) won the Victoria Cup back in May (7f, good to firm).
This 5yo recorded a career best on that occasion in storming over 2l clear, before a disappointing seventh in the Bunbury Cup last time (7f, soft). The respective Bunbury Cup 1-2 are both entered for Saturday in Heaven’s Guest and Absolutely So (both 16/1), but these faster conditions will not be ideal.
As for Gabriel’s Lad, then he’ll need to bounce back here if troubling the likes of Louis The Pious (14/1), who won the Buckingham Palace Handicap at the Royal Meeting last month (7f, good to firm).
Once again, high numbers dominated, with Roger Varian’s, Horsted Keynes (8/1), flashing through into second place. The improving runner-up may have even won on that occasion but for being set too much to do, and could reverse form with Louis The Pious for 3/4l on 3lb better terms.
It’s worth noting that Bronze Angel (12/1) was also only beaten just over 1l that day, and has since gained compensation in a valuable handicap at York (1m, good to firm). With only a 3lb penalty for that win, he too could be involved in the finish having now finished third and fourth in two big-field handicaps on the Ascot straight.
Another who likes this straight course is Belgian Bill (8/1), who won the 2013 Royal Hunt Cup, before a 4l seventh behind Field Of Dream in the same race last month. This 6yo was blocked on a number of occasions that day, and punters have been backing him to make up for that here.
There are plenty in here who like the Ascot straight, but with the ground set to ride fast come race time, Ayaar is taken to gain compensation for a very unlucky run in the Royal Hunt Cup.