The racing broadcaster has three selections at Ayr, a stable tracker runner gunning for a big prize and his regular list of trainers and jockeys to watch.
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Saturday sees one of the big race days in Scotland with the final day of Ayr’s Western Meeting featuring both the Silver and Gold Cups.
I am not generally a fan of consolation races as they don’t always fill but this week is the exception with the Bronze Cup on Friday sometimes a useful guide as to where you would prefer to be drawn (the first four home, drawn in stalls 6-7-16-19, nearly all raced in one group up the centre).
GOLD CUP (AYR, 15:35)
In the Gold Cup JUAN LES PINS (7/1) has every chance of going two places better than his unlucky third behind Summerghand last year. He ran into a dead end that day and crossed the line with more to give.
His form this season has been solid and includes another decent run in a big handicap when third in the Wokingham, while his last two runs have seen him place in Listed races. He has no penalty to carry since he won neither and, as the weights were framed a while ago, he runs off an 8lb lower mark than his current rating.
This will commit him to Pattern races in the future, but it gives him a great chance of a final handicap hurrah here.
SILVER CUP (AYR, 14:25)
In the Silver version, another horse who has run well in the race in the past catches the eye in JUMP THE GUN (7/1).
Unlike Juan Les Pins, he has been in the doldrums for the majority of the season, which sees him line up a full 10lb lower than when fifth in this race last year. He led home his group that day and looks to have come to life at exactly the right time based on his second at Doncaster last time out.
Both horses fit the bill of being proven under the conditions and lining up off lower marks than their current handicap ratings because of this race being an early closer.
ELSEWHERE AT AYR
Earlier in the card TITAN ROCK (11/2) looks the answer to the opener (Ayr, 13:15). He ran well at Thirsk last time over 7f but has form at a mile from earlier in his career. It is as far as he wants but there is not much pace in the race, so he can use his tactical speed to good advantage.
He is also proven at the track having won on this card two seasons ago.
STABLE TRACKER RUNNER
Connections of CHERRY BLOSSOM (SP) have elected to chase a big pot in the form of the Goffs Million (Curragh, 15:40) rather than run in another Pattern race with a filly who could still have Classic or Commonwealth Cup aspirations next season.
Her battling second behind Relief Rally in the Lowther was another step forward and it is worth repeating that her maiden victory at the track over 6f came in a time that was only fractionally slower than Bucanero Fuerte’s Group 1 victory on the same card in the Phoenix Stakes.
With Ryan Moore riding in Australia, Frankie Dettori is a slightly unusual booking and doesn’t exactly help it getting much of a price, but she has been our stable star in terms of quality since her debut run and I am looking forward to the stable percentage of the prize money!
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
The best bet away from the main action looks to be SAHARA KITTEN (SP) who ran well on his nursery debut at Kempton and, having only been raised 1lb, still looks fairly treated (Wolverhampton, 19:30). The fortunes of James Tate’s yard have taken a turn for the better and he should land in a good spot from stall 3 to either lead or track the pace.
Bryan Smart’s stable is another whose fortunes have taken a turn for the better, so his runners are worth close inspection over the next few days and weeks.
He’s had a very quiet campaign by his standards with just 11 winners in 2023 and only one from 54 runners in July and August. However, with four winners so far in September it is clear the yard are in better heart.
He doesn’t have the stable strength of old but still has some nice horses such as Thursday’s winner Bondy who cost a cool £450k.
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
Here’s our regular list of those riders heading for tracks where they have a particularly good record:
- Newbury – Tom Marquand (49 winners from 353 rides with an actual/expected ratio of 1.26). Starts the two-day meeting one shy of a half-century with his record at the track in 2023 reading an even better 11 from 48 with an A/E of 1.52.
- Newmarket – William Buick (179/930, 1.17 A/E). Another who has had a super 2023 so far with 12/37 and a 1.42 A/E at his home track.
- Wolverhampton – George Rooke (27/221, 1.33 A/E)
TITAN ROCK (11/2) (Ayr, 13:15)
JUMP THE GUN (7/1) (Ayr, 14:25)
JUAN LES PINS (7/1) (Ayr, 15:35)
CHERRY BLOSSOM (SP) (Curragh, 15:40)
SAHARA KITTEN (SP) (Wolverhampton, 19:30)