Al Rayyan Stakes Guide

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1. Raymond Tusk

T - Richard Hannon

J - Jamie Spencer

Raymond Tusk heads the field of seven after a very good second over two-miles at Ascot on seasonal return, but must cope giving weight out all round and the reduction in trip.

Sixth in last season’s St Leger, he has some good form to his name at Newbury, when winning on debut here this time last year, and finishing second best to Charlie Appleby’s Hamada in August.

Back down to a mile-and-a-half which he was successive at last year in France, so has every possibility of transitioning that form to home soil.

2. Crystal Ocean

T - Sir Michael Stoute

J - Ryan Moore

A very genuine, likeable character from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard, Crystal Ocean looked to pick up where he left off from last season and did so when taking the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown a few weeks back.

After victory in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, the now five-year-old son of Sea The Stars did finish second in his next three starts, but ran into a top-class individual each time, including Enable at Kempton and Cracksman back at the Berkshire venue.

This time of season he usually prepares well for future engagements with victories, and more of the same will be expected in this.

3. Laraaib

T - Owen Burrows

J - Jim Crowley

Good enough third to the globetrotting Hughie Morrison-trained Marmelo in a Group Three here a month ago and should definitely come on from the run.

Four victories in total in his history – the last two both coming at Ascot (including Group Three) which is a right-handed track, but does have a good record going left-handed earlier in his career.

Lightly-raced as a five-year-old and should offer more now, but trainer has been quiet lately.

4. Count Calabash

T - Eve Johnson Houghton

J - Charles Bishop

With Accidental Agent to look forward to, Eve Johnson Houghton has Count Calabash in the day’s other feature group event.

The five-year-old was campaigned over the winter on the all-weather, but despite his improved form, it does make this first group venture seem a little tough.

Beaten favourite last-time out at Kempton, but did win a nice handicap from course specialist Caspar The Cub convincingly the start before.

Possibly other targets for him to prioritise, returning to the turf for the first time since finishing last of 17 in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot.

5. Pivoine

T - Andrew Balding

J - Silvestre De Sousa

From stall one, Pivoine will be seeking a sparkling return to form which he may not get, with eight lengths to make up on the favourite Crystal Ocean from his latest start.

Rising the distance ladder, he was never really involved that day at the back of the field most the way, matching his finish in a Handicap at Chelmsford on first start of 2019 six weeks ago.

Won a nice race on the Knavesmire at York last August over 1m2f, and could offer more now trying 1m4f for the first time.

Struck over only start over ten furlongs at Kempton back in 2016, so could be interesting.

6. Red Verdon

T - Ed Dunlop

J - Oisin Murphy

Won smartly on reappearance at Doncaster, when latching onto the well-below-par Willie John in a Conditions Contest.

Could not further that winning feeling under Ryan Moore at Newmarket in a Group Two subsequently over today’s distance, which would raise one or two eyebrows.

Oisin Murphy aboard today on first Newbury appearance, and has each way claims at best; shame only seven runners.

7 - Top Tug

T - Alan King

J - Andrea Atzeni

Top Tug completes the field and is surely considered the outsider in this.

Has a good record after a break in handicaps, but will surely be well out of contention here.

Last seen finishing tenth in a big handicap at Newmarket, most of his form has come on the Rowley Mile, but has one outing at this track to his name - where he came fourth out of seventeen in another Class Two Handicap to What About Carlo.

This grade appears too much.

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