Twenty five runners go to post in this handicap over six furlongs. Some old favourites like George Bowen, Kimberella and Growl line up for the £124,500 winning pot. The going will be heavy for the race so form on that type of ground is a huge plus for a horse contesting any race on the card at Ayr this Saturday. In the Bronze Cup on Friday over course and distance, the hugest few places were filled by horses with a high draw.
Here is your runner by runner guide to 2018’s Ayr Gold Cup….
No1- Perfect Pasture
Nathan Evans and Mick Easterby
He has only ran twice since November and he was a convincing winner of a Listed race at Doncaster on soft in March. Last of eight behind Kimberella in a Listed race at Chester in August, he was tailed off last off of 108 and runs off that mark again. He’s won thirteen of his forty six starts but won’t want the ground any heavier. He will go on the current going but isn’t likely to like it any softer.
No2- George Bowen
Sebastian Woods and Richard Fahey
Won with this apprentice on his back at Hamilton in July. Close fifth in the Stewards Cup last time out, he hasn’t raced off a mark this high before and the ground may go against him.
No3- Ice Age
Scott McCullagh and Eve Johnson-Houghton
Beaten just over two lengths in seventh in an ultra competitive handicap at the Curragh last time out, he was fourth behind Gunmetal (1st) and Growl (3rd) in the Great St Wilfrid. The ground may cause him to struggle and he is 2lbs higher than last winning mark.
David Carroll and Ger O’Neill
Fourth in a Listed sprint last time out, three lengths behind Kimberella (3rd) and before that just lost out in a head bob finish to Gifted Master in the Stewards’s Cup beating Growl, George Bowen and Gunmetal. His last win came off a mark of 97 and he is currently 8lbs higher than then so may struggle. He’s yet to win over six furlongs and has been unplaced on all starts on soft so won’t like the ground.
Connor Murtagh and Richard Fahey
This horse is a proper star of the sprinting division. The eight year old has done it all and is a two times listed winner. He was disappointing on his penultimate start when finishing nineteenth of twenty in the Great St Wilfrid. He has won off a 4lbs higher mark than this in the past but has a huge weight so is likely to struggle on ground he doesn’t like.
Joe Fanning and David Barron
Finished behind Perfect Pasture good to soft in October and has climbed 16lbs since May. He won the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon by two and three quarter lengths last time out and has gone up 7lbs for that victory. He is yet to face conditions like this so he is likely to find this hard especially off this mark.
No7- Major Jumbo
Finley Marsh and Kevin Ryan
Second behind Kimberella in a Listed race last time out, he was a good third in a heritage handicap at Ascot the time before that. He is untried on the conditions and there is a possibility he will handle it.
No8- Son Of Rest
Chris Hayes and Fozzie Stack
This Pivotal colt will relish conditions as he has won on heavy before and was a brilliant second to Havana Grey in the Flying Five at the Curragh this weekend. There are question marks about his stamina at this trip as he is yet to win at it but the fact he has his perfect conditions boost his chances.
No9- G Force
Clifford Lee and Adrian Keatley
He was last seen in May when he was eighth of nine in a group two behind Merchant Navy. He’s a classy sort and will like conditions as he won a handicap by five and a half lengths in April on soft to heavy ground. He won the group one Super Sprint at Haydock in 2014 as a three year old off a lot higher mark than what he is on in this so that isn’t an issue.
No10- Baron Bolt
Cameron Noble and Paul Cole
Winner of two of his six starts this season, he won nicely last time out and runs off a career high mark in this. He has been behind Gunmetal and Ice Age recently though. He will need to step up but may struggle to do so with his current mark and he would appreciate the ground drying up like lots of these.
Tony Hamilton and Roger Fell
Twelfth in the Silver Cup here in 2016, he won a big field handicap on good ground in October 2016 beating Get Knotted and George Bowen. He has been running off 100 since November and would appreciate a drop in the weights from the handicapper. He has won on soft ground in the past but the mark he has to run off could be his downfall.
No12- Flying Pursuit
Rachel Richardson and Tim Easterby
This horse was sixth behind Gunmetal after going up 6lbs for landing the Sky Bet dash at York by a neck to Golden Apollo and a further three and a quarter lengths back to Summerghand, Growl and Tommy Tucker. He will go on the heavy ground as he won a nursery on it at two.
Danny Tudhope and David O’Meera
He has won seven times from his twenty starts and is a good flag bearer for the yard. He was twelfth at the weekend in competitive handicap at the Curragh which Ice Age also ran in and finished seventh. Five times a winner since April, he has gone up 17lbs since then and races off a career high mark.
David Probert and Kevin Ryan
Winner on soft ground in March, he was third behind Perfect Pasture in October. His last win came off a mark of 92 and he’s a lot higher than that and he won’t like the ground.
Paul Hanagan and Richard Fahey
He was third in two big field handicaps this summer off this mark and was also third in a handicap at Chester last time out. His last win came in 2016 off of b114 in a Listed race. Being beaten on heavy going twice goes against him but he runs off an appealing mark.
No16- Golden Apollo
David Allan and Tim Easterby
He ran better than his placing suggests last time out in the Porrtland but was beaten into eleventh by Gunmetal in the St Wilfrid. All his best runs have come on ground with good in the description but he has placed a few times on soft.
James Sullivan and Time Easterby
Staxton is the only three year old in the line up and he ran a decent race last time out at Newmarket. He’s untried on heavy going and looks a bit of an unknown quantity against these seasoned sprinters.
No18- Teruntum Star
Kevin Stott and Kevin Ryan
Last of twenty in the Great St Wilfrid, he had won the consolation race for that race the year before and followed that up with a nice win in the Coral Sprint Trophy. He’s slowly dropping to a reasonable mark.
Richard Kingscote and Ian Williams
He won the concluding race on the Derby card and got an 8lbs hike in the weights for that. He won next time out over seven furlongs at Newmarket and then was fourteenth of seven in a race at Goodwood. Will need to step up.
Edward Greatrex and Eve Johnson-Houghton
A ten times winner, this horse is very versatile and was last seen unplaced at Royal Ascot. He probably won’t like the ground and will struggle to take this.
No21- Tommy Taylor
Tom Eaves and Kevin Ryan
Currently dropping down the weights after landing a Listed race at York in September 2017. He was beaten a neck on heavy ground on debut so he definitely goes in it and runs off a decent mark.
No22- Get Knotted
Callum Rodriguez and Michael Dods
Winner on soft at York on his penultimate start, he was eighth off this mark beaten just over three and a half lengths on his most recent start and is still 2lbs higher than that winning. He was a course and distance winner at two but has been unplaced on all tries on heavy.
No 23- Brian The Snail
Jack Garrity and Richard Fahey
This horse was a long way behind Aces on seasonal debut and then won a handicap on good to firm at Doncaster. Form figures of 0000 in his last four runs aren’t very encouraging for his chances and he probably won’t like the heavy going.
Connor Beasley and Paul Midgely
Untried on any softer than good, he was a non-runner on heavy in 2017 so it will be interesting to see if he actually takes his chances. He won the Dash at Epsom as the third leg of a four timer he achieved this year but looks too high in the handicap.
Connor McGovern and Paul Cole
This horse has barely any weight to carry especially with his capable apprentice taking off 3lbs. His wins have all come on good or on an all weather track. He is 1lbs higher than his last winning mark and ran well in last year’s Stewards’ Cup too.
How Could The Race Pan Out?
The majority of the pace is drawn in the lower numbers so Muntadab, Major Jumbo, Flying Pursuit and Ice Age will be at the front of affairs on that side. The only front runner drawn high is Justanotherbottle, who comes from 25 which is the widest stall. He should get an uncontested lead but Gunmetal also sometimes runs front rank and he is almost dead central in stall 15 so he can pick which way he wants to go. This leads me to think that they could possibly split and the horses drawn thirteen upwards could follow Justanotherbottle down the rail and all lower numbers on the other side. There are lots of horses who like to front run in the lower draws so they could do a lot of the early work and tire out in the finish to aid the challenge of the higher drawn horses who go on the ground like G Force, Son Of Rest and Tommy Taylor, who will be held up.
I think that the smart way of picking a horse in this race that looks almost impossible to decipher is going with one that will most definitely go on the ground and, less importantly, be drawn high. Son Of Rest is predicted to be one of the favourites and I can understand that as he will relish conditions. He is one of two main fancy for me but there are stamina worries with him as he is yet to win over six furlongs. G Force is one that has caught my eye when researching this race. He is a group one winner and most definitely goes on this ground as he won a race by five and a half lengths on soft to heavy in April over in Ireland. For sentimental reasons, I’d like to see Kimberella win this and Tommy Taylor isn’t without a chance either.
Selections- Son of Rest and G Force (Both EW)