‘O Flower of Scotland when will we see’ a Scottish winner of the Ayr Gold Cup?
The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup run over six furlongs with £180,000 in prize-money is the most famous flat race in the country. You have to go back to 1975 for the last winner trained north of the border, when Ayr based Nigel Angus sent out Roman Warrior to win Scotland’s prestigious sprint. Ridden by Johnny Seagrave, he carried 10 stone to win narrowly in testing conditions.
Jim Goldie and Keith Dalgleish take up the challenge this time round and the signs are positive with both sending out a double on day one of the meeting.
Goldie saddles his stable star Jack Dexter. Third in the renewal of 2013 then back in eighth last year, the six-year-old is known to enjoy testing conditions which are unlikely on Saturday. He’s run consistently well all year, but could only manage eighth in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood last time. All eight career victories have come with soft mentioned in the ground description.
Dalgleish is having his best year since starting out in 2011. With half a million in prize money and almost 60 winners for the season, hopes must be high that a big win is just around the corner. His Sound Advice has only been out of the frame once in his last seven starts. He’ll be stepping back in distance having won a valuable handicap at Chester last time. He’s shown plenty of ‘zip’ in his races and was brave at Chester when bursting between horses to win. The shorter trip is not expected to be an issue if good enough.
If the home team draw a blank, expect Yorkshire based trainers to be heavily involved in the outcome. David O’Meara took the race last year and is in the midst of another sensational campaign that has seen him win a host of group events. Highland Acclaim looks his best hope and ran with great promise last week at Doncaster, when a fast finishing fifth behind Steps in the Ladbrokes Portland.
Richard Fahey won the Ayr Gold Cup in 2006, and is always in the shake-up. He saddled Heaven’s Guest to fourth place finishes in the last two renewals, and the same horse ought to go close again. Progressive throughout the summer, he was fourth in a listed race at York last time and won a valuable handicap at Ascot in July.
Fahey also runs Rene Mathis and the undefeated Don’t Touch. The former has won two valuable handicaps during the summer and the latter swept to victory in the Great St Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon last month. This is clearly a tougher ask, but the three-year-old is on a steep upward curve. He has come in for heavy support over the last few days and looks sure to be sent off favourite.
Kevin Ryan is another Northern trainer with a great record in the race. Three wins from the last eight renewals, he also saddled Blaine to finish third last September. The horse has failed to spark so far this season, but is now off a 6lb lower mark than when chasing home Louis The Pious a year ago.
Lexington Abbey sneaks in at the bottom of the handicap, and ran well in the Silver Cup at last year’s meeting. Pat Smullen was on board on that occasion and has again been snapped-up for the ride tomorrow. He won the race for Kevin Ryan in 2012 when riding Captain Ramius.
At a huge price it would be unwise to discount Ryan’s Group 2 winner Glory Awaits. Highly tried since his second place finish in the 2,000 Guineas two years ago, he may have needed his last run at York when fading in the final furlong. He likes to blaze a trail and could be an interesting each-way proposition.
Expect a huge crowd to be treated to a thrilling renewal on Scotland’s most prestigious race day of the summer.