Now worth £200,000, the Ayr Gold Cup is as competitive as ever but we’ve managed to whittle this year’s renewal down to a magnificent seven:
A model of consistency for David O’Meara this season, 4yo Arecibo has run close to the likes of Dakota Gold (Ebor meeting) and Oxted (Portland Handicap) and gets in here off the same mark of 98.
Overall his better form is his most recent, leading us to think that he is improving steadily as his age would entitle him to, conditions are fine for him and we reckon the jockey booking speaks volumes.
O’Meara has several chances in the race, most notably one of the money horses Summerghand who we rate highly (see below), yet top jock Danny Tudhope has chosen to ride this son of Invincible Sprit and that could be rewarded with a £124,000 first prize.
Seen on the track rarely since his brilliant comeback win in last year’s Wokingham and even then, not to terribly good effect, Brian Meehan’s runner remains of interest as if he comes back to himself, we know he has the class to win a race like this.
He’s now on a mark just 1lb higher than when winning at Ascot last season and will have the assistance of Colm O’Donoghue in the saddle.
Backed into favouritism after winning a premier handicap well at the Curragh on Sunday, Ger Lyons’ runner is an obvious contender as long as he has fully recovered from last weekend’s exertions.
He’s run just four times this season, winning twice and finishing second in another valuable race, showing a good level of improvement and while he is clearly not finished yet it remains to be seen whether he can follow-up so quickly in a race this hot.
An O’Meara runner, Gulliver was in fact third to Buffer Zone at the Curragh last weekend when finishing his race to really good effect. He’s 4lbs better off with that rival now, but he did take a rather comprehensive 1¾ length beating and his jockey has jumped ship, so while he represents very strong form on all known evidence, he should not necessarily be able to turn the tables with Colin Keane’s mount.
Laugh A Minute
Another 4yo who is entitled to get better, Roger Varian’s son of Mayson was relatively well-fancied up against the impressive Invincible Army in a Newcastle Group 3 in June and he duly ran very well to finish second there.
This is only his 15th outing and a career best could very well be on the cards which is what gets him onto this particular shortlist, however off a mark of 103 he’d need to be very good to prove well-handicapped.
A winner in a sprint handicap on the same day Laugh A Minute was second at Newcastle, Staxton is yet another of the 4yo age group who is steadily climbing the ranks and has just the right sort of profile for this race.
His wins at Newmarket and Newcastle over six furlongs mark him out as a horse that will see this out very well and he is just 3lbs higher now than when winning last, something that would simply represent his level of improvement so he has every chance here.
This time a 5yo, Summerghand is another O’Meara contender and one with consistently excellent form in the book in recent times.
Although he hasn’t won this season, he’s run close up behind Flavius Titus, Cape Byron, Danzeno, Khaadem and Dakota Gold all of which reads very impressively. He remains on a workable mark and must be there or thereabouts, but to have been steadily risen 5lbs this season without winning and with Tudhope having chosen to ride Arecibo there are just a couple of lingering doubts about when it comes to backing him to win.
Naturally there are solid contenders galore and if you allow yourself to think too much about the ground or the draw, you could preview this race 15 times and come up with 15 different winners.
As it is, we’ll trust our private ratings and as such the one with the biggest chance for us is David O’Meara’s apparent no.1 contender ARECIBO. His run just bottomed out in the Portland and he can conserve a little more energy over this slightly longer trip, he’s well handicapped in all likelihood and has the right man on board.
Staxton is still capable of more and has solid place chances at a nice price, a fair each-way prospect, as is the well-backed Buffer Zone although his price has collapsed.