BIG RACE PREVIEW: The feature race on Saturday at Newbury is the Hungerford stakes with Danyah and Motakhayyel going head-to-head.
As one would expect it is a strong and competitive renewal of the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes and with Shadwell Estate Company and Godolphin providing almost half the field then it is clear that the Dubai based consortiums very much fancy taking the prize home.
It is reasonable to conclude that Jim Crowley would have had the pick of the three Shadwell horses on show and the fact that he has chosen to ride Danyah indicates that the son of Invincible Spirit is fancied to go well. If we look at the ten year trends for the race then we can see that Danyah is ideally placed to back them up with age, weight, rating and any further quickening of the ground all seemingly in his favour. He can also point to two very encouraging runs at Ascot this season and his victory in last month’s International Stakes there was top class handicap form and it entitles him to take his chance here.
In the same ownership Motakhayyel brings the highest rating into the race (117) and this is the mark in the ten year trends that suggests that this is the ceiling for the Hungerford Stakes winner. In effect, he sets the bar for the rest to reach. Although possibly discarded by the retained jockey and finishing behind Danyah last time, he is very much a player here. Al Suhail is also very much a player too. He returned from an absence at Ascot in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes last month and he looked to be travelling best two furlongs out. However he couldn’t pick up and he stayed on into third, just under two lengths off the winner Tilsit. He has a major chance but there is also a nagging feeling that a mile and slightly softer ground may be more his bag.
Three-year-olds have a decent enough record in the race having won three of the past ten runnings and they are well represented here. William Haggas has never hidden his admiration for Sacred and having won the Nell Gwyn Stakes on her reappearance in April she took her chance in the 1000 Guineas the following month where she didn’t quite get home over the mile. Back to her preferred distance here, her combined official mark and weight allowance place her right alongside Motakhayyel on ratings and she could easily be involved in the shake-up. Another three-year-old who could be in the mix is the colt Line Of Departure. Having won the listed Cathedral Stakes over six furlongs at Salisbury on his reappearance in June, he was then stepped up to Group 1 company for the July Cup at Newmarket last time and he found that company a little too hot finishing 13th of the 19 runners. Stepping up to seven furlongs for the first time here, he could easily improve for it and he could go well at a forecast double figure price.
In a wide open and competitive renewal it would seem that Danyah and Motakhayyel fit the trends best and any continued firming of the ground will strengthen their case for victory. And whilst dangers are abound, the two three-year-olds (Sacred and Line Of Departure) look to be particularly dangerous and at potentially decent value prices too.