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Belgian fits the Bill in International Stakes

Belgian Bill was a big eye-catcher last time out and with Ryan Moore now taking over in the saddle can land the ultra-competitive International Stakes at Ascot today (3.15).
The George Baker trained six-year-old has been a grand servant over the years in top class handicaps, with his last win coming in the 2013 running of the 28-runner Royal Hunt Cup over a mile at this venue off a mark of 97.

Belgian Bill now gets into this 7f contest off just 5lb higher having looked as good as ever in two runs this season.

The son of Exceed And Excel ran a blinder to finish third of 25 to Gabriel’s Lad over course and distance on reapparance, and now meets the winner on 8lb better terms for a 4 3/4 length beating.

That may well be enough to turn the tables, and Belgian Bill backed up that effort with a desperately unlucky seventh of 28 to Field Of Dreams in the Royal Hunt Cup at this venue.

After being held-up at the rear of the field on the rail, Belgian Bill ran into all sorts of traffic problems when trying to make a move a furlong from home and stayed on strongly to be beaten just four lengths.

He finished with plenty of running left in him, and off the same mark of 102 holds leading claims of gaining compensation now partnered by Moore for the first time.
There are plenty of dangers, and the main one could well be the progressive Horsted Keynes.

The gelding, who is trained by the in-form Roger Varian, has won four of his seven starts and put up a career best effort last time out when a 3/4 length runner-up to Louis The Pious in the 28-runner Buckingham Palace Stakes over course and distance.

The four-year-old was held-up in last place and given far too much to do before flying home in the final furlong, and arguably would have won had jockey Jamie Spencer overdone the waiting tactics.

In the circumstances, Horsted Keyens does not look harshly treated off just a 3lb higher mark given that he would have gone up much more had he prevailed in that contest.

For those looking for a big outsider that could offer some each-way value, Don’t Call Me fits the bill.

The seven-year-old is has winning form over course and distance and has often runs well in big field handicaps at the venue.

The Dandy Nicholls’ trained gelding wasn’t disgraced behidn Bronze Angel from a poor draw at York last time out, and the booking of the highly talented Oisin Muprhy to do the steering looks a positive one.