It’s Ayr Gold Cup time once again, and while the atmosphere is missing this year the race itself remains wildly popular with its Silver and Bronze versions still needed given how oversubscribed it is as an event.
Once more it seems this race will take some getting, so with conditions at the forefront of our minds we’ve come up with the below six runners we feel have a strong chance of getting into the money, the selection being one who could be heading to a higher level.
The second run after a breathing operation is always one to keep an eye on, so any significant money for Kevin Ryan’s horse should be noted.
Before the op his form was very good, if not always that consistent, with good six furlong runs coming at Doncaster last season and Haydock this.
Both of those standout efforts were achieved on properly soft ground however, which he may not get here, so while he remains of interest off a handicap mark some 4lbs below his peak enthusiasm is just tempered slightly.
A crack valuable handicap race performer last season over longer distances, David Barron’s six-year-old had lost his form somewhat but has now been given wind surgery.
He is very interesting in that he could come right back to his best now given the change of distance and the breathing op, though off 105 he is still high in the handicap.
Richard Fahey’s runner is capable of going on a great run of performances and he will be very popular in the market for this race.
Third to Staxton (see below) in the Great St Wilfrid a couple of outings ago, the seven-year-old was sent to Ireland a month later to contest a very valuable race which he won in gritty fashion in the end, and now he comes here just six days later under a 5lb penalty. He has plenty in his favour on paper, but has to turn out quickly.
A progressive four-year-old by Dark Angel, one we’ve backed before. William Haggas’ looked good last season over seven furlongs and so should definitely be seeing this out right to the line, but he has been even better over this six furlongs.
Third in the Silver Wokingham at Royal Ascot, he ran well that day but faded having looked all over the winner. Things picked up several levels when he destroyed his handicap field at Newbury in July before he was beaten in the Stewards’ Cup.
He is used to these big field handicaps, has plenty of improvement left to come, is versatile as regards ground and represents top connections. Should go very well under Tom Marquand.
Our choice when winning the Great St Wilfrid, Staxton despite having won twice in a row now still hasn’t got back up to the mark of 100 he achieved only a year ago and so as a four-year-old capable of more he could still be very well handicapped for the Tim Easterby team.
That being said, in his five runs this season he has just taken conservative steps forward rather than giant leaps from race to race and so his latest 4lbs rise might just be enough to stop him this time in such a competitive event.
Stone Of Destiny
Undoubtedly strong having just landed the Portland Handicap in very fine style, the only real questions about this horse are the conditions and whether he’s the type to pull out two big runs in a row with little time between them.
Last week’s 5½ furlong success at Doncaster was terrific on the eye, but the Yorkshire track and Ayr are different and the ground may play a part too.
That said, he is on an upward curve and of the three King Power horses in the line-up, including Bielsa, this fellow gets the first choice colours so plenty is expected of him.
Both Stone Of Destiny and Staxton, second and third on our list, have had tough recent runs and so while they are bang in form there is also just a chance that they will not be up to running at the same level as last time.
NAHAARR on the other hand really is a sprinter who is going places. A repeat of his win at Newbury two outings ago would entitle him to go close off the mark of 101 he was subsequently handed, so given the fact he’s down another 2lbs now and can improve even further he simply has to be backed for this race.