Posted Wednesday 20th September 6.30pm
A quiet start to the Ayr Gold Cup meeting as we build up to Saturdays richest sprint handicap in Europe. As a major fan-boy of the #FantasticMrFahey this meeting is quite important. Firstly if you asked the master trainer to write down the one race he wanted to win EVERY season I expect it would be the Ayr Gold Cup! Hence he is likely to saddle six (25% of the field) possibly eight. Currently shortest in the betting is Toscanini and Paul Hanagan (wasp sting permitting) is down to write whilst Graham Lee has already been booked for last year’s second, Growl.
Secondly he targets this meeting for many of his lesser horses and runs plenty of “Saturday” horses in the handicaps here.
As with all these Festivals the Going is crucial. The current official line is:-
Going/Track Soft (GoingStick: 6.9 on Wednesday at 07:30) Going stick Sprint course FAR 6.3 CENTRE 6.4 STAND 6.3
Rails: Top Bend in 7yds Remainder Track Full Width Stalls:6F & 5F Centre 7F Outside Remainder Inside
Weather 0mm Rain past 24hrs Wed: Showers in morning heavier through day (15mm) Thurs: Wet start turning drier through day (<2mm) Fri: Dry start chance of shower in afternoon Sat: Dry sunny spells Windy
Going/Weather/Other last updated @Wed 20 Sep 9:20am
Those going stick readings do not surprise me. The 5.20 is a C5 twenty runner 5F handicap and I would expect the field to “arrowhead” down the centre, likewise in the Bronze Cup on Friday. Tomorrow at 11am we have the draw for the main event and I’m expecting those who have early picks to go for stalls 5-14. In recent years with Firm in the going the stands rail has been the place to be but on Soft ground the lower numbers are preferred and although we will probably start on Soft it should quicken towards Saturday when I expect Good to Soft.
Oh dear I’ve just seen this on racingpost.com “4:01PM, SEP 20 2017 Ayr’s three-day Gold Cup meeting could start on ground that is heavy in places on Thursday if up to 15mm of rain falls overnight at the track as forecast. But a drier outlook afterwards means clerk of the course Graeme Anderson does not expect Saturday’s £200,000 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup to be run in those conditions. Anderson said on Wednesday: “It’s going to be a slow-ground meeting and at the moment we’re calling it soft. We’ve got up to 15mm of rain forecast to come from 4pm Wednesday to around 4am on Thursday, but it’ll be dry thereafter with a bit of wind. We’re hoping we might miss the majority of that rain, but it’s a waiting game.
If we get what they’re saying, then we’ll be heading towards heavy in places on Thursday unfortunately. But if the wind is right it dries out quick and I wouldn’t think we’d be like that on Saturday.”
Whilst talking Going please note that the other excellent two day card at Newbury is due to run on Good, Good to Firm in places and Saturdays Newmarket is Good to Soft but drying.
So back to Ayr and Wednesdays card. Three I fancy and no surprise they’re all residents at Musley Bank! Plus a total “co-incidence” selection.
1.40 NARCOS Two star** win @ 2/1 general
One run, One win. Changed hands since but stays in the yard. Notebook says, “Impressive winner of a 7F C4 Doncaster on Good ground. Deep chested good size son of first season sire Lethal Force. “Held up, travelled, smooth progress to lead 1F out and saw it out well, Topspeed of 62.” He was a €60K foal and the Merchants and Missionaries picked him up for £45K as a yearling and I would guess he has done his growing since. Now with Mr Arculli who normally has his horses (“Reds”) with Ed Dunlop.”
I made Valdolobo the main danger as his debut third to White Mocha is a solid piece of form and taking on Karl Burkes 2yo’s is currently a dangerous game!
2.10 NORMANDIE LADY One star* each way @ 7/1 general
Very much an each way selection as she wants a galloping track, the longer the straight the better, some cut in the ground, C4/5, 8F+ which is basically what she has here. Drawn 1 should help and as long as she gets some space to stretch her legs in the straight it will be a case of whether she is good enough? We’ll see but the price is generous.
4.50 FOREST RANGER Three star*** win @ 5/2 general (15/8 PP?)
The main selection of the day and very much the NAP. This race would be no more than this classy 3yo deserves. Sixth in the G2 Dante, fifth in the G1 St. James Palace, second in the Listed Henry Cecil and second in the G3 Thoroughbred at Goodwood. Last time he was runner up again, to Mustashry in the 9F G3 Strensall at York’s Ebor Festival and what a cracking run, closing all the way to the line. The ground could be an issue but he’s run on it before and I think he is still improving and this 10F will be his ideal trip. I really hope his owners, the Steel’s, resist the temptation to sell him as I think he’s a Group winner next season.
Now for the “coincidence” selection. No surprise that The Caledonian Racing Society own a racehorse called KING OF SCOTLAND. No surprise that it is running at Ayr 3.45 at Scotland’s biggest Flat meeting. What is a surprise is that it is trained by Hughie Morrison at East Ilsey in Berkshire and the furthest north King of Scotland has ever been is Leicester!
BUT his form stacks up. Three runs on the all-weather at shorter trips, bang in he goes in a Leicester 12F C5 handicap on Soft ground at 16/1. Taken out at Newbury because the Good going was “unsuitable ground”, down the field at a hilly Lingfield, recently gelded and off north of the border for soft ground, regular pilot Charlie Bennett and he’s ready to rock again! 5/1 general and there is a Lucky 15!
Meanwhile away from Ayr there are a few interesting races at Yarmouth and Pontefract.
Yarmouth 4.10 C2 14F 0-100 handicap with some interesting types. Personal favourite Theydon Grey with Ms Georgia Cox in the saddle claiming five pounds but the ground is a worry. The 3yo’s are still getting a valuable 8lbs which brings in John Gosden’s Zenon and Godolphin’s Alqamar, who are both blinkered for the first time. Add to them Nadaitak for Hamdan al Maktoum who last time he ran I recorded, “a boat of a horse who won’t do anything quickly!” Fascinating contest as Mick Quinns Great Hall has doesn’t anything wrong recently. No bet, look and learn.
Yarmouth 5.15 C3 8F 71-90 handicap for 3yo’s which should be right up Mazyoun’s street but he has been a disappointment so far after showing promise as a 2yo. Couldn’t back the inconsistent Hugin even with Jamie Spencer on board and the other three all have won at some stage this season. Trappy with a capital ‘T’ but could give clues going forward.
Yarmouth 5.50 C3 7F 76-90 the 3yo’s get 3lbs and I think Big Tour and Noble Masterpiece will make full use of it. Both seem late developers but of the two I prefer the Stoute trained Dutch Art gelding off OR83. Notebook says “Looks another Freemason Lodge slow burner or possibly a bit of a lad. £170K son of Dutch Art by a Galileo mare was unraced as a 2yo, last of ten on debut, bolted to post, and promptly gelded. Two runs over 6F, slow away in the first but ran on, Unsuited by the slow ground at Sandown and looked one paced without being bashed about. Went handicapping at Yarmouth C5 7F off OR72. Looked a racehorse showing a nice turn of foot approaching the final furlong, up 6lbs OR77 but looks progressive on good ground or better. Just touched off at Kempton having challenged on that slower (?) inside rail. Sadly up another 6lbs to OR83.” The weight rise and the “Good to soft, soft in places” ground prevent me having a bet at 15/8.
Pontefract 2.50 C4 66-80 8F handicap on Good to Soft, Good in places ground. The interesting horse here is #FantasticMrFahey’s 3yo Mushaireb for Al Shaqab who won his only start as a 2yo but was a huge disappointment on his 3yo debut in April finishing a long last of ten at HQ. He was gelded and off until a fortnight ago when he ran better in an 8F C3 handicap at Thirsk although held up and never competitive. This son of Invincible spirit who cost £105K as a yearling has questions to answer. Could be ridiculously well handicapped on OR79.
Pontefract 4.00 C2 6F Fillies handicap and there are some speedy ladies in here. #FantasticMrFahey asks Marie of Lyon to go again having won at Brighton on Monday and she is joined by stable mate Megan Lily. Kassia has swum in deeper waters than this and Clon Coulis has already gone up a stone and looks the most progressive. Blink and you’ll miss it!