Ayr Gold Cup Day Preview
Aye complete three days of action on Saturday with their standout Flat race the Ayr Gold Cup at 3.40pm. The feature has attracted a maximum field and should, as always, be a breakneck sprint event. Racing at Ayr is 1.20pm-5.20pm on Saturday afternoon and the Racing Post bring you their preview and predictions for what should be a thrilling day of racing.
1.20 - Microtech Group EBF Nursery (1m)
Makalu seeks a hat-trick under claiming rider Oisin McSweeney after wins at Thirsk and Carlisle on his last two starts. He's far from the finished article yet and has shown a willing attitude at the business end of his races lately, so he seems a threat to all concerned in the Ayr opener.
KING OF YORK passed the post first at Carlisle over this trip last month only to lose the race in the stewards' room afterwards. The 'winner' La Pulga gave that form a boost at Doncaster's St Leger Festival recently and Kevin Ryan's Kingman gelding may get some compensation and he is capable of better still.
Vaccine was a shade disappointing at Thirsk last time and needs to do more here, while the likes of Chester second The Dunkirk Lads appears to have potential for better upped in distance and Heights Of Aran has scope too moving into nurseries for the first time.
Selection: King Of York
Next Best: Makalu
1.55 - Virgin Bet Doonside Cup Stakes (Listed, 1m2f)
Not as competitive as the numbers suggest perhaps, with a few of these having plenty to prove in this grade. Not so Royal Ascot scorer JUAN ELCANO, who took out the Wolferton Stakes in June over this trip and then finished second in a Group 2 at York in July.
He was understandably well held back on the Knavesmire in last month's Juddmonte International but could feasibly take full advantage of this class-drop now.
The veteran Euchen Glen was imperious in his Group 3/Listed successes at Sandown earlier in the season, though his last two runs at Haydock and York have come up well shy of that level. He needs a bounce-back effort here, but it's dangerous to write him off.
Maydanny was disappointing in the Superior Mile at Goodwood this month, but he stays this distance and Mark Johnston's 5YO is capable of far better than he showed in that contest. As with many from the Middleham trainer's string, it shouldn't come as a shock if he leaves that poor run behind quickly.
Selection: Juan Elcano
Next Best: Maydanny
2.30 - Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup Handicap (6f)
Michael Dods' BLACKROD appeals as being one of the best-handicapped horses on the card this afternoon after successive wins at Newmarket (6f, good to firm) and York (5f, good) since July.
He's not won with much in hand in either instance, but he has come through from a hold-up position to get the job done in pleasing fashion just the same.
The Mayson colt is far from the finished article at this point after just seven starts and he has plenty scope for better. With Billy Garrity retaining the ride, they effectively have 5lb in hand for this Silver Cup assignment and could prove hard to halt if getting a clean passage.
Bergerac won at York this month already and remains a model of consistency, though Kevin Ryan's charge needs extra under his penalty now. Stablemate Magical Spirit and Karl Burke's Bickerstaffe are other notables but Royal Scimitar is second on the last for trainer Clive Cox.
He was close-up behind Blackrod at Newmarket in July in a similar contest and went close again at Ascot on Shergar Cup day and then took in a Listed event at Newmarket in late August, while most recently a slow pace wasn't in his favour back at Ascot this month.
There should be no hanging about here and, if first-time blinkers have a positive effect, Hector Crouch's colt can have a major say.
Next Best: Royal Scimitar
3.05 - Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Fillies' Stakes (Group 3, 6f)
Ger Lyons has sent a good team over from Ireland for this meeting and Head Mistress is perhaps going to be amongst the best of them.
The Profitable filly has won both starts in her homeland so far and there was lots to like in the way she went after and collared Loveday in a Listed Curragh contest last month, after the winner travelled stylishly in front and threatened to steal the prize.
Gary Carroll takes over riding duties now and, with the yard in fine fettle, they have standout claims again.
Kevin Ryan's Hala Hala Athmani justified market support for a winning start at Carlisle last month and is sure to improve, while David O'Meara's Rishes Bear is another once-raced winner with scope for more going up in class. Both need monitoring in the betting.
Hellomydarlin is the standard-setter on ratings for George Boughey and boasts lots of experience in good company. She should be finishing off as well as anything.
Having made a strong impression in her debut win at Kempton in July, not much went right for SCOT'S GRACE back there this month when she tackled the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes on second start.
She had her progress checked on multiple occasions in the home straight and was a definite eye-catcher in the circumstances for trainer Kevin Philippart De Foy. With a better rub of the green here, the Mehmas filly could be ready to deliver a big performance on her turf bow.
Selection: Scot's Grace
Next Best: Head Mistress
3.40 - Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap (Heritage Handicap, 6f)
The main event of Ayr's Flat-season and another cracking renewal, with a bumper field set to compete in the Ayr Gold Cup.
Ante-post favourite Great Ambassador is likely to spearhead the betting for Ed Walker.
He ran a cracker in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood in July, leading home his group, in finishing third in a race won by re-opposing Commanche Falls.
Great Ambassador has won both starts since at Newmarket and York - latterly in Listed company - and comes here with strong form claims.
The likes of Glorious Goodwood winner Mr Wagyu and Hollie Doyle's mount Popmaster are also major players on form, while top-weight Summerghand is a rock-solid performer, though maybe has enough on his plate in his latest attempt on this prize as he's 10lb higher than when fourth in 2019.
Two against the field are COUNT D'ORSAY and Just Frank. The latter was a progressive sprinter last year at 2YO and had been running well over 7f prior to dropping to this trip again last month at Thirsk where he netted his first win of the season.
That was just a second start in the cheekpieces he sports here and he looks to have good claims under a 5lb penalty for that win three weeks ago (officially 2lb well-in).
Tim Easterby's Count D'Orsay got in last to this race and will carry just 8st 13lb under David Allan. The Dandy Man gelding has had a busy and pleasing summer campaign but is yet to stick his nose in front despite some pleasing efforts.
He ran well in a Sandown Group 3 in July and, last weekend, was a close third behind progressive Hurricane Ivor in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.
He races from the same mark now and has shown an ability to back up quickly in the past. He squeezed through some gaps to make the frame on Town Moor and, traditionally, this is a time of year at which he excels.
Selection: Count D'Orsay
Next Best: Just Frank
4.15 - Virgin Bet Handicap (1m)
HONG KONG HARRY was a dual 7f winner here back in April/May and he's likely to be plenty sharper for his spin around Lingfield (7½f, good to firm) last month where he finished third.
That was his first run in 107 days and should have blown off any cobwebs ahead of this assignment. Paul Hanagan is back on board now and Richard Fahey's lightly-raced 4YO could take some stopping in attempts to make it 3-3 around this venue.
There's not much to knock Cryuff Turf on, he's won 4-6 starts since early May including a game effort at York last month in a valuable Class 2 event. Tim Easterby's charge is up another 3lb for his troubles and is now 19lb higher than when he scored at Nottingham back in May.
Dance Fever is another strong chance. A 7f Leicester winner in July, the Clive Cox inmate has run three good races in defeat since and last summer's Ascot form gives a strong hint that going back up to a mile here won't be a problem. Stablemate Garden Oasis has won three of his last four and should go well again despite the handicapper's attentions.
Selection: Hong Kong Harry
Next Best: Dance Fever
4.50 - Download The Gribbens Taxi App Now Handicap (7f)
Redarna is a five-time winner over C&D (six wins here in all) and demands a chunk of respect back around here for Dianne Sayer but perhaps SUMMA PETO can exact some revenge having been third behind him when they clashed over a mile back in July.
Keith Dalglish's 3YO travelled ominously well that day but was just found wanting in the final furlong as Redarna gamely held off Shelir to win. He remains low-mileage and with more to give and he's proven himself adept when fresh, so his absence since that run cannot be counted as a negative.
Cassy O is another previous C&D winner in the mix for Tim Easterby, while Bowman is in fine fettle for Mark Johnston and arrives seeking to complete a hat-trick. They join the mare Poet's Magic - herself a former winner over track and trip and in very consistent form this season - on the extended shortlist.
Selection: Summa Peto
Next Best: Poet's Magic
5.20 - Jordan Electrics Ltd Handicap (1m5f)
The mare GREENGAGE is within 2lb of the mark from which she scored over C&D earlier in the season and she has won three of four starts on this course in 2021.
When last here in July, she was lumping weight to three rivals in a tactical affair and this should be run more to her liking. She's one to be interested in in the Ayr finale.
Annandale is the only 3YO in the field and he's become a little frustrating since his Nottingham win over 1m2f in the spring. His July runner-up finish at Sandown over 1m6f offers hope and he takes on older rivals for the first time after being well beaten in a strong York event against his peers last month. He may do well.
Next Best: Annandale