The declarations for the Ayr Gold Cup – one of the big betting races of the flat season – will be announced this morning with Fozzy Stack’s Irish raider Son Of Rest 6/1 favourite at BetVictor. The four-year-old is officially 10lbs “well-in” having finished runner up in a poor renewal of the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. The ground was described as soft at Ayr on Wednesday afternoon – with more rain forecast – which is not a concern, but he wouldn’t be for me at his current odds.
The first day of Ayr’s Western Meeting is today’s highlight and their feature event is the listed Doonside Cup over 10f. The 9-year-old Air Pilot will love the ground but must carry a 7lbs penalty for his Group 2 success at Longchamp back in April and is overlooked in favour of the each way selection Morando (3.35) who has his first start for over two months for Andrew Balding.
The five-year-old finished third to Crystal Ocean in the Gordon Richards Stakes back in the spring, is well drawn in stall two and should enjoy the ground. Aspeter carries a 3lbs penalty for his Goodwood listed win back in May and bigger dangers could come from the progressive three-year-olds Ayutthaya and Escalator.
Chinese Spirit is interesting in Division II of the Mile Handicap, but I am going to give the vote to Glorious Poet (3.05) who has changed yards this season and is going to be fresher than most having had just the two starts so far this term. It might be significant that the gelding’s two wins have been at this time of the year (September and October) and Franny Norton takes over in the saddle for the first time.
I still have nightmares about the ride Clifford Lee gave Double Reflection at Ripon on her penultimate start when I thought she was a certainty, but the talented apprentice may not have got the fractions quite right out in front and she was caught close home. She is 5lbs higher this afternoon and may not get a soft lead with the progressive Bollin Joan another confirmed frontrunner.
I am a big fan of trainer Keith Dalgleish and he saddles three of the eight-strong field including top-weight Che Bella who has been raised 6lbs for scoring at Thirsk over a mile last month. I’m going to take a chance on Jim Goldie’s maiden Sarvi (4.10) who encounters soft ground for the first time. The filly was last off the bridle at Musselburgh over 1m 6f on Saturday before her stamina gave out and she gets the each way vote given she is likely to have the race run to suit.
Pammi’s recent improved form stalled at Musselburgh earlier in the week and she will have to improve again for the step up to 1m 6f this afternoon. Northern Sky has been disappointing over timber in his native Ireland of late, but a market move would be worth noting.
Three-year-olds have won this corresponding race for the last couple of years and Ishallak was well supported when a disappointing favourite at Epsom on his handicap debut last month – Ralph Beckett fits his 3-y-o with blinkers for the first time today. I am going to take a chance on Beer With The Boys (5.20) who, as a son of Nathaniel, should appreciate the soft ground and is the half-brother of 2m Group 2 winner Tungsten Strike.
The final day of Yarmouth’s Eastern Festival and in the opener Sosume (1.50) can build on his close third fitted with a hood for the first time at Wolverhampton stepped up to six furlongs for the first time.
Floria Tosca is on a hat-trick for Luca Cumani and is clearly progressing with her racing but I hope the first-time blinkers help Nassya (4.00) who was not beaten too far at Windsor on her handicap debut when last seen back in July – well supported. She is no star but cost connections over 500,000 gns as a yearling and they will be desperate to get a win next to her name for breeding purposes.
Former colleague of mine Mick Quinn had a good winner at Yarmouth on Wednesday and has his string in cracking form – his Colonel Frank is only 2lbs higher than scoring over C&D last time. The vote, however, goes to Khamry (5.10) who has only had four career starts but has won half of those and does have a record of going well fresh.
At Chelmsford this evening the progressive three-year-olds Gripper and Special Mission (6.15) can fight out the finish of the 1m 6f handicap with marginal preference for the latter who didn’t get the best of runs when runner up at Newcastle last time. The winner has failed to frank the form back on turf, but I feel the Sir Mark Prescott filly can shed her maiden tag at the tenth time of asking.
For all your racing odds go to BetVictor.com