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Betfair International Handicap

Ascot is the scene for feature racing in Britain this weekend and while many eyes will be on the big names in the King George, those shrewd handicap punters will be focusing on the Betfair International. The Young Racegoer, Calum Madell, @calummadell returns with his preview...

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3:15 - Cash Out Multiples Only On Betfair International

Where do you start in finding the winner of this desperately tough 7f handicap, one of the best of the year. I do like to look at trends for races like this and firstly I will look at age and there’s some telling stats.

Considering that two of the three favourites are three-year-olds it is worth looking there first. Despite a few places and a win for New Seeker back in 2003, they have a poor record in the last ten years from the 25 runners to represent them.

That already is a negative for Queensbury Rules and Ashaadd, the former finishing third in what looked a very good Britannia Stakes. Ashaadd meanwhile won last time at Haydock were they were strung out from a very early stage and he seemed to pick up the pieces really. He doesn’t strike me as a type for a handicap like this and I’d be readily opposing.

The other notable stat is that nothing over five years has won the race in the last ten years, anything over six placing. I can’t discount anything solely because of its age but will definitely be concentrating on four and five-year-olds to add to their past success.

One factor too that must be worth noting is the weather. Thunderstorms are a possibility tomorrow and that really puts a spanner in the works. The draw is pretty fair at Ascot but I always like to be near side when the ground is good and when there’s been rain, I always concentrate far side as it drains better.

Anyway on to form and there’s plenty with past Ascot form which is always key. Redvers is one of those and has been in grand form this season but he had a great chance in the Victoria Cup but could only finish fourth and was seventh here at the Royal Meeting. He just isn’t well handicapped enough at the moment.

Pricewise has gone for Loving Spirit and he was near the top of my shortlist too. There is definitely one of these in him, the closest he’s been so far was second on British Champions Day. He has been unfortunate so far here this year and do not surprise if he strikes tomorrow.

Field Of Dream won the Bunbury Cup last time off 98 plus this last year and with a 3lb penalty he is well in by 3lb too as he’s due to go up to 104. Everything went his way at Newmarket as he got a lovely tow into the race by ES QUE LOVE and I’m So Glad. It has to go right for him again tomorrow and that is not a certainty in a bid to retain his crown.

Luckily for Es Que Love, he gets to race off 99 because this is an early closing race, meaning he’s 6lb well in. He has been extremely busy so far this season and fully deserves to take a big race such as this. Time after time he’s run big and there’s nothing wrong with his attitude, but with him now up to 105 after this race, there will not be a better opportunity than here. He was average last week in defeat and I would have preferred him to have that week off but he clearly thrives with the busy schedule and he’s definitely got another big one in him. Mark Johnston has been a very good form in the past couple of weeks and last week’s Sandown winner Galician is not discounted either.

Lightning Cloud had threatened to get his head in front in one of these before and he duly did so at the Royal meeting, winning the Buckingham Palace in great style. Still he’s 7lb higher and this is a much bigger ask. Kevin Ryan also has Trail Blaze who wears blinkers for the first time. He’s not out of it but they need to have an effect.

Hawkeyethenoo is 3lb and 4lb higher than when running in this race in the past couple of years and neither time has he troubled the judge, notably when favourite in 2011. Prince Of Johanne is a former Hunt Cup winner and also beat a good field at Sandown latest but stats are against him and a career best is probably needed again.

There’s a big race in Bertiewhittle who ran a good second in the Victoria Cup on his return and another second in between two average runs. He needs a career best though and so too does Dubawi Sound, also representing David Brown.

One I am giving one final chance to is COMPTON who has got in at the bottom of the weights and there’s plenty going for him in this. He seems better when the pace is strong and he can pick them off and while experimenting at sprint distances hasn’t really worked for him, it means he is now slipping onto a decent mark. The rain won’t hurt his chances and his Ascot record is superb, a pair of fourths in the Britannia last year and on Champions Day plus a win in lesser grade. He’s been well supported but I think he’s still a decent price to certainly have a saver on.

Elsewhere near the top of the weights, Don’t Call Me always runs well but never has enough to win one of these, in attitude or the weights. Santefisio ran a blinder at Royal Ascot though has been punished accordingly while Shamaal Nibraas fits a few trends and is not without hope and Excellent Guest has a tough ask to match his Victoria Cup win.

The Confessor has been in great form and has a squeak while Glen Moss steps back up in grade after a win at Doncaster latest but hasn’t been punished too much for that and fits the bill of a winner of this. However my final pin has dropped on DUCAL. I have tracked his last two runs and both times he has been pretty unlucky. Connections have changed his running style and he now challenges from behind, which seems to suit as he is a strong traveller. Both times he has missed a run at vital stages, notably at Newmarket on his penultimate start. He is fine on all ground and a strong pace here will be ideal for him. There’s plenty saying he is hard to trust after he refused on his return but connections have insisted there is nothing wrong with his attitude and that was a freak event. He’s never won on turf but at 33/1 he is a great e/w price and do not be surprised if he opens his account on the big stage (won numerous times on the a/w already though).

Advice
Es Que Love 1.5pts e/w @14/1 generally
Compton 1pt e/w @20/1 generally
Ducal 1pt e/w @33/1 generally

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