Summerghand heads a mammoth 163 entries for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup following the five-day confirmation stage.
David O’Meara’s popular seven-year-old sprinter has to carry a 5lb penalty for winning the Listed Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket last month.
Ante-post favourite for Saturday’s famous handicap is Great Ambassador, who also has a 5lb penalty following his victory in the Garrowby Stakes at York – another Listed event.
His trainer Ed Walker could be two-handed if Popmaster is among the 25 guaranteed a run at the 48-hour final declaration stage. There are the Silver and Bronze Cups for those below in the handicap.
Michael Dods would like to see some rain to help Commanche Falls’ cause. The four-year-old has been kept for this race since lifting the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.
“We’ll have a lot of entries, but we are looking at the ground,” the County Durham trainer told Racing TV.
“They are forecast rain on Friday, so we are thinking Saturday could be quite nice ground.
“We’ll have Commanche Falls in the Gold Cup and we have other entries – the likes of Pendleton, Blackrod – but really we are monitoring the ground.
“Commanche Falls likes to be off the bridle and finish. He did it well in the Stewards’ Cup.
“It’s not an easy call for the weight he’s got in the Ayr Gold Cup. But he’s in good form, and some rain would help – because he comes late, and we wouldn’t like the pace horses to get away.”
The most notable absentee on Monday from the initial entries was the Andrew Balding-trained Chil Chil, who was third in the Haydock Sprint Cup on her latest start.