Tag Archive for: Ayr Gold Cup

Bielsa strikes in Ayr Gold Cup

A brave ride from Kevin Stott enabled Bielsa to secure big-race honours in the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup.

With the results of Friday’s Bronze Cup and the Silver Cup earlier on Saturday’s card suggesting a low draw was favourable over the sprint distance of six furlongs, it looked like Bielsa would have his work cut out drawn highest of all in stall 25.

As the stalls opened, the majority of the field split into two groups, with several horses racing on the far side of the track and another batch going down the middle.

The Kevin Ryan-trained Bielsa (15-2), however, ploughed a lone furrow against the stands’ side rail, which ultimately proved a masterstroke.

Great Ambassador, the 3-1 favourite, careered clear of his rivals on the far side inside the final furlong, but Bielsa galloped straight and true and was two and a quarter lengths clear passing the post.

Ryan, winning the Ayr Gold Cup for a fifth time, told ITV Racing: “I spoke to Alistair Donald (racing manager for winning owners King Power Racing) this morning and said ‘we’re on the rail, it’s fresh ground, and he likes to go that way anyway’.

Bielsa winning the Ayr Gold Cup
Bielsa winning the Ayr Gold Cup (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“It’s great to train a winner like this for King Power. They’ve been very patient with this horse and I’m chuffed really.

“He’s a very talented horse. It just hasn’t happened this year. Things go wrong and you get little niggles, but that’s what gets you an Ayr Gold Cup – they generally get there fresh and well.

“We’ve won four Ayr Gold Cups and you wonder if you’re going to win another one.

“They were all Group horses and this horse is a Group horse.”

Ayr Gold Cup Draw and Pace Bias Plus Western Meeting Pointers

A different format last week but thankfully I still managed to flag up the chances of Hurricane Ivor who won the Portland. This weekend’s big meeting is of course taking place at Ayr. It’s the final day of the Western Meeting and the big races of the day are the Ayr Silver Cup and the Ayr Gold Cup.

I’ll delve into potential draw and pace biases in this race shortly but it’s worth noting that the draw bias does definitely change from year to year in this so the best clue of all is likely to come in the Bronze Cup which will be run 24 hours earlier than these two races. Middle to low looked the place to be on Bronze Cup day.

That’s all the future though, on to what’s happened in the past.

Ayr Gold Cup Draw Bias

This data can be applied to any big field sprint at Ayr, including the Bronze Cup and Silver Cup.

This race can be run on extremely soft ground but it’s normally run on ground that is good to soft or better so it should pay to concentrate on this data.

Historically it has paid to be lower rather than higher. More than half the winners in this sample have come from the lowest third of the stall whilst high has performed better than middle, an indication that you probably want to be drawn one side or the other and not marooned in the middle.

The place percentages are better for low as well with a place percentage of 23.53% for those drawn on the far side of the course. This time around middle performs better than high for place percentage although there isn’t much in it and low is the clear winner again.

All metrics are useful when examining draw biases but in terms of purely finding out if there is an advantage one way or another PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is often the top dog as every runner is contributing to the data sample. The PRB figures for this course and distance are 0.53 for low, 0.51 for middle and 0.46 for high. Again this points towards lower the better.

No draw analysis would be complete without looking at the individual stall data as it’s often not just a case of low v middle v high. There are usually some micro biases and cut off points within the overall draw.

The individual stall PRBs aren’t overly conclusive. The two best readings come from the two highest stalls suggesting a very high draw is an advantage although no other stall, 20 or higher, appears in the top fourteen places.

It’s easy to see why the data favours lower drawn runners. Stalls 2 to 10 inclusive all appear in the top thirteen places meaning nine of the top thirteen stalls are 2 to 10.

Stalls 14 to 25 inclusive all appear in the bottom fourteen stalls as far as PRB is concerned. That’s a sequence of 12 stalls all performing badly, much worse than stalls 2 to 10. This all appears to suggest low is the place to be in this race.

So we definitely want to be drawn low and high numbers have no chance, is that right?

Absolutely not!

In 2020, on good to soft ground the finishing positions of the first 5 home in the Bronze Cup were 21, 22, 4, 14, 24 so higher draws certainly can’t be ruled out. It does seem that low is favoured more often than not though.

Ayr Gold Cup Pace Bias

Big fields can bring about the best in hold up types but do these big Ayr sprints suit the patiently ridden or the prominently ridden?

Despite the straight track and cavalry charge style race the pace tends to hold up remarkably well here. Prominent and mid division produce more winners but from far more runners. In terms of win percentages (9.09%) and place percentages (29.55%) front runners do best of all here. Prominent is next best on the place percentage leader board, followed by mid division, with held up the worst run style for seeing horses to best effect here. When you see a sliding scale like this it’s a pretty sure sign of a pace bias.

One stat that stands out is that backing front runners blind each way in these races gives you a level stakes profit of 17.11 whilst the same strategy for hold up performers yields a 110.71 loss!

Ayr Gold Cup Draw and Pace Combination

I make no secret about my love for the draw and pace combination heat maps on Geegeez Gold and we’re going to see an insightful heat map here.

It’s quite telling that those drawn high seemingly need to be ridden aggressively to be seen to best effect. The best draw and pace combination is leading from a high draw and it produces an amazing PRB of 0.73. Being prominently ridden from high draws also sees horses to good effect but the more patiently ridden you are from a high draw, the more you are likely to struggle.

If drawn low, prominent seems best of all, with low or middle draws seeming quite crucial for those that are going to be held up. If drawn in the middle it seems mid division isn’t the place to be. This often seems to be the case with these heat maps and is probably because horses racing in mid division in big fields from middle draws seem the most likely to experience traffic problems (at least those that are held up can switch wide, those in mid division will be surrounded by other runners and are forced to wait for the gaps to appear).

Ayr Gold Cup 2021 Pace Map

All this talk of pace is irrelevant unless we look at the pace maps for these races. Even if the course tends to lend itself to front runners, an excess of early leaders can cause a pace collapse handing the advantage to those that like to come from behind.

Two things stand out with regards to this pace map. For such a big field there isn’t a whole lot of pace. Just Frank likes to lead, as does Mr Wagyu whilst Brad The Brief tends to only track the leaders.

Second of all, the pace is in the middle of the course. Both of these facts seem bad news for hot favourite Great Ambassador who isn’t going to have a really strong pace to aim at and he isn’t going to have a whole lot to take him into the race either unless he’s switched towards the centre early on.

This probably isn’t going to be the ideal scenario for hold up performers or those that stay a little further. This should be a relative speed test and with the course favouring pace anyway I’d be pretty keen to side with something that races prominently at least. I’ll share some thoughts on some form contenders further down this article.

Ayr Silver Cup 2021 Pace Map

Will we see more pace on offer in this contest?

Possibly a couple more pace options in this one but at the same time the Gold Cup has two real trailblazers, there may be none in this field!

Bergerac tends to lead but he was only ridden prominently last time. Likewise Soldier’s Minute can lead but he often only chases the leaders too. Similar comments apply to Mid Winster and Air Raid. Bergerac seems the most reliable pace option and maybe a couple of other jockeys will take the initiative and go forward to give their mounts the best chance possible.

Unlike the Gold Cup there is a better spread of pace. Bergerac will give the lower numbers a decent tow, Mid Winster should lead the middle pack and the higher numbers will probably follow Air Raid. If the lower drawn runners track over towards the middle we should see a lot more pace there than on the near side rail.

I’d be keen again to support something that will be ridden near the pace in this as I’m not convinced there is going to be enough pace to allow too many to get into this, especially not the most patiently ridden runners.

Ayr Western Meeting Top Trainers

This is a big meeting, Ayr’s biggest, so it’s interesting to investigate which trainers seem to target this meeting.

Given the smaller sample for looking at just September results at Ayr it makes sense to concentrate more on the each way data than the win data. This table is sorted by Each Way %, showing how often these trainers are hitting the frame, and those figures should be cross referenced with the EW PL to see if they are meeting market expectations.

There are some real stand out trainers in this list. The record of Bryan Smart certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed but in terms of trainers who are doing really well with some serious volume the likes of Tim Easterby, Mick Channon and Keith Dalgleish are all trainers to take very seriously with their runners at the Western Meeting here at Ayr.

Thoughts For This Weekend

With this information the immediate thought is ‘how can we profit from it this weekend?’ and I’ll now share my thoughts on some runners who, at the very least, should be able to outperform market expectations.

Ayr Gold Cup Preview

There is rain around for most of Friday but it doesn’t look likely to amount to a great deal and probably just saves them watering the course.

On the assumption of relatively fast ground I most certainly want to be with something that is going to be front rank, something that prefers fast ground and something that is in good form. A low to middle draw also seems an advantage both historically and based on the races that took place on Friday. One runner that fits that category, and pretty much the only runner that does so, is Mr Wagyu. He's had a ridiculously good season, winning five races including the Stewards’ Cup consolation race.

He’s gone up in the weights since that last victory, and has been well enough beaten twice, but with excuses. The first of those defeats came at Ripon, a course where he was beaten 18 lengths, 10 lengths and 8 lengths on his last three tries there. Then last time out in the Portland Handicap he ran really well to finish 6th, finding the extended 5f too sharp on that occasion. It’s certainly true that the handicapper has made life far more difficult for him now but this seems the perfect setup for him. At around 20/1, with up to 7 places on offer at the time of writing, I’d be pretty interested in him, for all a place will be more likely than the win.

Just Frank has shown he is fairly versatile in regards to the ground this season and maybe connections have finally found the key to him at this distance with cheekpieces on. I think he is capable of running well but he’s around half the price of Mr Wagyu and his chance would almost certainly be helped by rain so if the going is good or better I’d prefer My Wagyu. Stall 18 is also a bit higher than ideal by the looks of things.

The majority of the others I like in this race are hold up performers and I think the value is definitely going to lie with those nearer the pace.

Ayr Silver Cup Preview

This takes place just over an hour before the Gold Cup so in terms of draw advantage we are relying on Friday’s racing and historical evidence.

Again, I am very keen to side with something that races pretty close to the pace in this. From a form perspective those nearer the head of the betting all seem to have very good chances and the majority of those market fancies are likely to be ridden fairly prominently. Much might depend on how the ground turns out.

Blackrod will appreciate the step back up to 6f and he’s progressing well. He’s run in some top 3yo sprints this season and has been ridden prominently on his last two starts. His best form is on faster ground and he’s drawn in 10 which seems pretty much perfect. The key thing to note here is he runs off the same mark as when winning over an inadequate trip last time out because that was an apprentice race and this is an early closing race.

Magical Spirit won this last year and has slowly returned to form this season. He should race prominently but he seems best on something resembling good to soft ground. Assuming the ground is faster I’m happy to leave him alone. He’s drawn in stall 4.

Royal Scimitar is a horse I have been following this season. He was only half a length behind Blackrod in July, when drawn on the wrong side of the track, and he is 2lbs better off this time around. He should race fairly handily but the unknown is the first time blinkers. If they have a positive effect he will probably win this, if they don’t he might well finish unplaced. He’s drawn in stall 9, right next to Blackrod, and probably appeals more as a win only bet than an each way if the ground stays fast.

Bergerac is another runner that I’ve personally been following and he’s been really consistent all season. He was runner up at Doncaster on softer ground on his penultimate start, behind a subsequent winner (the third and fourth have finished runner up and third since so good form) and he followed that up with a win at York on faster ground. He’ll likely try to make all from stall 5 which should see him to good effect. Unfortunately he’s 3lbs wrong under a penalty. Assuming there isn't lots of rain he should still run very well and is expected to be amongst the places.

None of those runners are going to make anyone rich so here are two horses at bigger prices that might be interesting, but both are drawn high which looked a negative on Friday. Total Commitment at 16/1 looks overpriced on his Stewards’ Cup 4th. He can lead or race prominently and whilst that effort came on soft ground, he has also won on fast ground. I’d be slightly more interested if the rain came for him as it would inconvenience a few of those fancied horses above that want the rain to stay away.

The other big priced one of interest is Lord Rapscallion. He’s drawn in 23, one stall lower than Total Commitment, and he’s been running in top handicaps all season (4th in the Buckingham Palace Stakes, 3rd in the Bunbury Cup). He didn’t look to stay a mile last time and he’s interesting based on his only 6f run on turf this season when runner up to Chil Chil (easy winner but now rated 14lbs higher) and in front of Great Ambassador, the ante post favourite for the Gold Cup. He’ll race handily and he handles fast and soft ground, just like Total Commitment. Unless high draws do well in the Silver Cup this pair seems best left alone though.

Assuming fastish ground I think Blackrod and Bergerac are near certainties to be in the frame at the least. If they were to compete on current ratings Blackrod would be 8lbs worse off with Bergerac than these terms which suggests Blackrod should be the pick of the two. Royal Scimitar is risky with the blinkers on but if he takes to them he should beat both Blackrod and Bergerac.

Another Race Of Interest

In May, in this column, I put forward a good case for Redarna at a big price in a Haydock handicap. He ran a blinder that day to finish a close 4th and that race worked out well with the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th all winning shortly after and the 2nd, 5th and 9th all going close on their next starts. That race was run on heavy ground and in that preview I stated that Redarna would be almost unbeatable off his current mark on easy ground at Ayr.

I made that statement knowing the horse had form figures of 1111241, with that 4th coming at 10f (all other races in that sequence had come at 7f). As it turned out Redarna’s next run came at Ayr but I swerved him that day because of fast ground – his only previous win on fast ground had come off a 21lb lower mark. Unfortunately for me he added another 1 to his course form figures at a fair enough price of 9/2. That was only a five runner race but the runner up has gone close on two occasions since so it’s not bad form.

Redarna is a good horse in cheekpieces at 7f or a mile when racing on good or softer ground. His form figures in this scenario read 12117215014. Interestingly the 5 and the 0 came on his two runs at Thirsk so it seems he doesn’t get on with that course.

Given cut in the ground or Ayr, he tends to run very, very well. At Ayr with cut in the ground he’s pretty much unbeatable (in the right company off this sort of mark). He proved he can win off this sort of mark on fast ground at Ayr in July and two defeats elsewhere on fast ground aren’t of great concern. He’s just 1lb higher than his last win and 1lb higher than that hot form at Haydock in May. On fast ground on Saturday he’ll rate a fair bet, on good or even softer he’d be a stronger bet. He runs in the 4.50.

Other Hot Form To Note

Hot form, that is races that are throwing up subsequent winners or runners that are getting much closer to winning next time out, is my main consideration when finding a bet. There is some hot form on offer in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap (3.25) at Newbury on Saturday.

This race looks set to be dominated by the classic generation with several of the well fancied 3yos yet to fully show their hand, which makes backing those horses, or opposing them, a bit risky. However King Of Clubs surely has to be a very solid selection in the race.

His run at Newmarket at the July Meeting was really hot form. The winner won a French Group 2 next time out and is now rated 21lbs higher, the runner up won a Group 3 on his next run and is now rated 9lbs higher. It was no surprise therefore that King Of Clubs won at Sandown on his next start and the 4th also went in at Goodwood on his next run.

King Of Clubs only won by a nose at Sandown so I didn’t expect him to go up by much, even if he was much better than the bare result (not many got into it from behind). However the handicapper put him up 7lbs for that, presumably as much to catch up on the hot form at Newmarket as to ‘punish’ him for the Sandown win.

It’s reassuring though that the runner up in that Sandown race, Victory Chime, came out and won at Chester a week ago off a 4lb higher mark, once again franking the form of King Of Clubs. He’d rate a decent enough each way choice on Saturday even if there are likely to be a few in this race that are better than their current marks.

Great Ambassador leads Walker’s Ayr raid

Great Ambassador and Popmaster give Ed Walker a formidable hand in the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup.

The trainer of top-class sprinter Starman is excited at the prospect of firing a twin assault on one of the most prestigious sprint handicaps of the season, with the hat-trick seeking Great Ambassador clear at the head of the market.

A close-up third in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood earlier in the season, the four-year-old has since impressed in handicap company at Newmarket and then in the Listed Garrowby Stakes at York – a victory which earned him a 5lb penalty for Saturday’s assignment.

Walker said: “We’ve targeted Great Ambassador at a few of these big races this year, and it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another.

Great Ambassador in the York winner's enclosure
Great Ambassador in the York winner’s enclosure (PA)

“We’re under no illusions how much luck is required, and he’s actually a pound wrong at the weights. He went up 4lb for winning at York, but carries a 5lb penalty.

“Anyway, I hope this will be his last run in a handicap. He’s in good form, so let’s hope he can pull it off.”

Great Ambassador has already gone up more than a stone in the weights since joining Walker from Ralph Beckett’s yard – and the Lambourn handler admits he has been surprised by how much he has improved this year.

“I never really thought he’d develop into such a good sprinter – but he’s got bags of speed, and I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of him yet,” Walker added.

“Hopefully he’s got a great chance in what is a wide-open and competitive race.”

Popmaster is an interesting second string to Walker’s bow, turning out a fortnight after an impressive win at Ascot under Ryan Moore.

Hollie Doyle takes over in the saddle, while the trainer hopes the application of blinkers will bring about further progress.

Walker said: “Ryan’s advice after at Ascot was that he wasn’t doing much in front, and putting the blinkers on was actually something I’d toyed around with at home. I think it will really help.

“He’s a good horse, Popmaster – and while I think he’ll be better again next year, I’m really looking forward to seeing him run.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a really good race.”

Commanche Falls after wining the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood
Commanche Falls after wining the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Michael Dods has been saving Commanche Falls for this race since his Stewards’ Cup success in late July.

The Darlington-based trainer is hoping for rain in Scotland to give his charge the best possible chance of claiming a fifth victory in seven starts this season.

“We just thought we’d give him a break after the Stewards’ Cup because he’d had a few hard races,” said Dods.

“He’s in good form. Connor (Beasley) rode him on Wednesday and was very pleased with him.

“Any rain they get would help. If he doesn’t do anything else this year he’s had a good season.”

Dods also saddles outsider Pendleton, of whom he added: “He’s a good horse, he just needs a bit of juice in the ground.

“He was second at Ascot and won at York on his first couple of runs this year and just got completely bogged down in the ground in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot and didn’t show his form.

“At York last time, the ground was just plenty quick enough for him.

“He’s in good form, but he would want rain.”

Summerghand and Great Ambassador among Ayr Gold Cup hopefuls

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.

Fahey targets third Ayr Gold Cup with Mr Lupton

Mr Lupton is out to bag his second major prize in the space of a week in Saturday’s QTS Ayr Gold Cup.

Richard Fahey’s sprinter was rated as high as 113 at one stage of his career, but a fairly slow start to the current campaign saw him fall to a mark of 98.

A third-place finish in last month’s Great St Wilfrid at Ripon suggested he was on the way back and he continued his resurgence with victory in the lucrative “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap on Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh last Sunday.

With talented apprentice Billy Garritty booked for the ride to negate his 5lb penalty, Fahey is hopeful Mr Lupton can provide him with a third victory in this weekend’s Scottish showpiece following the previous triumphs of Fonthill Road (2006) and Don’t Touch (2015).

“He hasn’t done a lot since he came back from Ireland, just a couple of light canters,” said the Musley Bank handler.

“He seems in good form. It’s one of those – you just don’t know until the day, but we’re happy to run him.

“He’s been a star, a legend. It’s amazing. He was bought at a charity function. Out of the charity came a bit of good.”

Fahey also saddles outsider Gabrial The Wire, of whom he added: “He’s a bit hit and miss. A fast-run six-furlong race should suit – it’s just if he’s quick enough to lay up early on.”

Tim Easterby was relieved Staxton made the cut, having decided against running him since winning the Great St Wilfrid last month.

He said: “He’s in good order and I hope he’ll run a good race.

“We took a gamble by waiting for this race. I could have run him somewhere else under a penalty, but I spoke to the owners and we decided we’d wait for this and thankfully he’s just crept in.

“He’s drawn down the middle (15) and I hope he’s got a good chance.”

Seven days on from claiming Classic glory in the St Leger at Doncaster aboard Joseph O’Brien’s Galileo Chrome, jockey Tom Marquand has high hopes of landing another major prize with the William Haggas-trained Nahaarr.

Tom Marquand is looking forward to teaming up with Nahaarr
Tom Marquand is looking forward to teaming up with Nahaarr (Edward Whitaker/PA)

The lightly-raced son of Dark Angel was a runaway winner at Newbury in July before finishing ninth when favourite for the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.

“He’s a really good ride to have. I think we’ve got drawn pretty well in 13, so I’m looking forward to riding him,” said Marquand.

“He’s a horse with lots of ability. He didn’t handle Goodwood all that well in the Stewards’ Cup and I just hope this can be a bit of a bounce back from that run. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

“Fingers crossed things can go our way.”

The formidable combination of trainer Andrew Balding and champion jockey Oisin Murphy is represented by Stone Of Destiny, who bids to follow up his win in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster last Saturday.

Balding said: “He won the Portland well and although this is a little bit further for him, he is a good horse when everything drops right – that is the key to him.

“He needs a strong gallop to aim at, which is what he will get at Ayr, but he doesn’t want the ground too soft.

“The Portland was the aim, but we decided this was worth having a go at afterwards.”

David O’Meara fires a four-pronged assault, with top-weight Gulliver joined by stable companions Arecibo, Cold Stare and Young Fire, while Kevin Ryan has three runners in Bielsa, Hey Jonesy and Major Jumbo.

Jedd O’Keeffe’s Air Raid and the David Barron-trained Another Batt also feature in what is always a fiercely competitive affair.

Nine Runners To Consider In Saturday’s Big Sprints At Ayr

The two big handicaps on Saturday both take place at Ayr over 6f within 70 minutes of each other. With a total of 50 horses set to go to post across both the Ayr Gold Cup and Ayr Silver Cup picking winners, or even places, is not going to be easy.

I’ll be providing a shortlist of horses that have strong or hot form and are worth consideration for both races. In races like this there are always plenty of runners that have been laid out for the race so recent form isn’t necessarily the be all and end all but hopefully we’ll see some of these run well.

Ayr 6f Draw and Pace

A lot is always made of the draw in these cavalry charges but can we rule any runners out, or give extra consideration to others, based solely on the draw?

Looking at 16+ runner handicaps run at Ayr since 2009 on ground ranging from soft all the way up to good to firm, low draws have comfortably held the edge across all metrics.

The data offers some conflicting figures about whether middle is preferred to high or vice versa. It seems if you are drawn high, a particular area of the high draws and a certain run style is of great advantage.

High drawn front runners do particularly well. In fact in terms of PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) the most efficient and effective combination is high draw and speed. Prominent racers seem to have the same chance wherever they are drawn and then the more a horse is held up, the more it is an advantage to be drawn low.

It’s worth noting that all horses drawn in the top third of the draw contribute to the high drawn data. However if we look at individual draw data we see some quite revealing stats.

The above shows that as far as PRB is concerned, the two highest stalls are way out ahead, albeit with limited data, whilst the remaining high stalls are all amongst the worst for PRB. So it seems a very high draw is fine, or even advantageous, whereas a middle to high draw can be a big disadvantage.

Looking at these races run on just good to soft ground gives us less data but hopefully a further insight into how the bias will be this weekend.

No wins for the middle stalls looks a bit misleading here as the place percentages and PRB both confirm a middle draw can be slightly preferable to a low draw.

The PRB heat map on good to soft ground once again shows that if you are drawn high you almost certainly need to be on the pace. If you are drawn low then it is potentially more of an advantage to be held up. The runners will probably split into two groups and the far side group will almost certainly be bigger so it stands to reason that those held up from a low draw get a decent pace to aim at and are therefore slightly advantaged.

If I had the pick of the draw and didn’t have an out and out front runner I’d probably choose a draw somewhere between 7 and 14. Horses can run well from low, middle and high stalls here though and a ‘better’ draw should only be seen as an advantage of perhaps a few lbs rather than a guarantee of victory.

Ayr Silver Cup – 2.30pm

King’s Lynn

It’s easy to see why he’s been installed as the 4/1 favourite here. He won a Doncaster sales race last year as a 2yo beating Repartee and Toro Strike (both since rated in triple figures).

Of more relevance is his form this season. He’s had just the one start, a month ago, in a novice event. He was defeated by 2.5 lengths when sent off odds on which on the face of it is disappointing. However the winner of the race has since won at listed level and is now rated 111 so for King’s Lynn to get within 2.5 lengths, in receipt of 2lb but conceding race fitness reads well for a horse now running in a handicap off 94. Full Authority was 4.5 lengths behind King’s Lynn in that race, also giving the Andrew Balding runner 2lbs, and he has gone close in two handicaps since off 87 which again suggests King’s Lynn’s effort was worthy of a mark north of 94.

His draw in stall 6 looks near perfect and even if just reproducing his last run he should go close. Add in some improvement for that first run of the season and the fact he’s still had just three starts and he’s tempting, even at prohibitive odds.

Rathbone

At around 12/1 he looks a solid each way bet based on his form at this distance this season. In June he finished 3rd to Glen Shiel and Tabdeed at Newcastle and both those runners have gone on to win Group 3 races recently. Back in 4th was Treacherous who won his next two starts in handicap company. Remarkably he gets to run off the same mark of 90 here despite also finishing runner up at Ascot last time out, beaten just a head.

He’s drawn in stall 22 and is often held up so that does look a big negative based on past draw data. Maybe the Bronze Cup will show this to not be the negative the data suggests.

Aplomb

This runner tends to be overbet but an inconsistent, disappointing season means he is finally becoming a working man’s price (as big as 18/1 at the time of writing). For his entire career he has looked in need of 6f and cut in the ground. Last year when he got those conditions his form was 21120, the last run was a very rare poor run at the end of a long season. He’d probably had enough at that point.

This season started off promisingly. He was a running on 5th over an inadequate 5f on fast ground on seasonal debut (1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th all at least runner up since). He’s now 3lb lower. Off the back of that run he was sent off near favourite for the Silver Wokingham but he found drying ground against him and ran a respectable 7th. All runs since have come at less than 6f.

The bad news is he is 5lbs wrong here compared to his current, falling mark. He is still well handicapped on old form though and under optimum conditions from stall 10 he could outrun his odds.

Magical Spirit

It’s surprising to see this horse available at 28/1 for this. He does have a bit of an in and out profile but he has run well in both turf starts this season and seemed to benefit from a wind op last time out when a running on 4th at Haydock in deep ground. The 3rd that day, Danzeno, went close to winning the Portland Handicap on his next start and Magical Spirit was only half a length behind Danzeno on this occasion. He’s won at 6f before and the return to this trip should suit.

Show Me Show Me

The biggest question mark for this one, and probably the only reason he’s available at 33/1, is the trip. He should be well handicapped here based on his Royal Ascot 8th in which the 1st, 2nd and 7th have all won since and many others have run well in defeat. He’s now 7lbs lower despite running okay and being better than the bare form on his last two starts.

This is a step back up to 6f, which he hasn’t convinced at yet in three starts. However two of those came as a 2yo and the one run at this distance as a 3yo came in a Group 3 for which he was sent off 28/1 and at that time Richard Fahey’s runners were mostly needing, or improving for their first runs of the season. He has often been outpaced at the half way point over 5f so there is hope he can stay this fair and from stall 4 he should run well if staying.

Ayr Gold Cup – 3.40pm

Staxton

Last two wins have come at Ripon, where he tends to do well, and both races have worked out nicely. The first of those victories saw him beat a dual subsequent winner whilst the 4th has finished runner up on both starts since and the 5th has won since. Five winners have emerged from his latest win including the 3rd and the 4th. He’s another 6lbs higher and hasn’t performed brilliantly here for the past two years but he’s better handicapped than the last two attempts and he does hold Mr Lupton (favourite at the time of writing) on the bare form of their recent meeting too and has a decent draw in the middle.

Mr Lupton

He was 3rd to Staxton on his penultimate start in that aforementioned warm race and went two places better to win a big field Curragh sprint next time out. Mr Lupton is 1lb better off with Staxton for a 0.75 length loss and now has the 5lb claim of Billy Garritty so has claims of reversing placings over this different course. Stall 11 looks pretty much perfect for him.

Barbill

A winner on his seasonal debut in a race that couldn’t be much hotter. The 2nd was runner up in the Stewards’ Cup on his next run at the distance, the 3rd and 4th have both won twice since and the 5th has also won since.

He’s now 10lbs higher, which makes life a lot more difficult but the 3rd is now rated a stone higher and the 4th won easily last week off a 6lb higher mark so it’s not beyond him, especially as he was a running on 6th in the Portland Handicap a week ago after being badly hampered at the start of the race.

From stall 12 he appears to have an excellent chance here.

Bungee Jump

This runner has almost certainly lost his form based on his last two runs but it’s interesting that this front runner is drawn in the second highest stall here – an angle that has done well in the past. On his seasonal debut he beat subsequent winners into 2nd and 3rd and he held his form well for his next two starts. He’s gone up 8lbs in the ratings this season but if he returns to form and if front running on the near side rail is an advantage (neither are guaranteed) he’d surely have as much chance as anything so 50/1 perhaps underestimates him, for all he is a very risky proposition.

Final Thoughts

Two very difficult races but if given two selections in each race I'd go for King's Lynn and Magical Spirit in the Silver Cup and then Barbill and Mr Lupton in the Gold Cup. The best bet between the two races is potentially Barbill each way at 25/1 (price correct as of Friday afternoon) given pretty much everything appears to be in his favour here.

Mr Lupton heads Ayr Gold Cup field after Irish win

Ante-post favourite Mr Lupton is among a maximum field of 25 declared for the QTS Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday.

Richard Fahey’s well-seasoned sprinter showed his well being when taking a 22-runner handicap at the Curragh last weekend. He will race from stall 11.

Stone Of Destiny (drawn 19), winner of last week’s Portland Handicap at Doncaster, bids to complete a big sprint double for Andrew Balding that was achieved by his father Ian with Lochsong in 1992.

David O’Meara has four runners, headed by top-weight Gulliver (20). Young Fire (4), Cold Stare (21) and Arecibo (25) while Major Jumbo (16), Hey Jonesy (8) and Bielsa (22) make up Kevin Ryan’s three-strong team.

Staxton (15), trained by Tim Easterby, made the cut thanks to a 5lb penalty for winning the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon.

Richard Hannon’s Lexington Dash (1) was the last of the 25 to get in.

Group One winner Addeybb is set to face six rivals in the Jordan Electrics Doonside Cup.

The William Haggas-trained gelding won twice at the top level in Australia earlier in the year and was second to Lord North in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

The six-year-old drops back into Listed company for the first time since the Royal meeting in 2019 and has a 7lb penalty to concede.

Lord Glitters, trained by David O’Meara, is the other Group One scorer in the field, having lifted the Queen Anne Stakes last season while Fox Chairman and San Donato have form at Group level.

Rose Of Kildare gave Mark Johnston his first Scotty Brand Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes success 12 months ago and the Middleham trainer relies on Perfect Times this time.

A competitive field of 15 includes Umm Kulthum, She’s So Nice and Scarlet Bear, who were third, fourth and fifth respectively in the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York.

Scarlet Bear has since finished third in the Group Three Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury earlier this month when Illykato was fourth.

Fozzy Stack’s Sloane Peterson is the sole Irish raider.

Danzeno set to bypass Ayr Gold Cup date

Leading Ayr Gold Cup fancy Danzeno is likely to miss the race, trainer Mick Appleby has confirmed.

The consistent nine-year-old has been towards the head of the ante-post lists for the big betting race of the weekend after finishing second in the Portland at Doncaster last week.

Danzeno has never run in the race before and Appleby is favouring a contest at Nottingham instead.

Appleby said: “He was unlucky not to win at Doncaster the other day, it was just unfortunate something came out the other side and beat him.

“He is in the Ayr Gold Cup and though he definitely gets in, he is more than likely not to go and we have near enough decided that.

“I think it is more likely that we will go to Nottingham the week after, as there is a 0-105 handicap there. He has done well this season and held his form well.”

Summerghand heads weights for Ayr Gold Cup

Stewards’ Cup winner Summerghand heads the weights for the QTS Ayr Gold Cup following the five-day acceptance stage.

Fourth in the six-furlong handicap showpiece 12 months ago, David O’Meara’s smart sprinter is rated 1lb higher this time – but is burdened with 11lb more having to carry 9st 13lb.

Should he take his chance, Summerghand would at least be in calmer waters as he contested the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock last time out, when eighth to Dream Of Dreams. Among other possibles for O’Meara are Gulliver, Young Fire, Cold Stare and Arecibo.

Stone Of Destiny, trained by Andrew Balding, has a 5lb penalty for his victory in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday, while the Kingsclere trainer can also call on King’s Lynn, owned by the Queen.

The three-year-old shaped promisingly when second to the exciting Starman at Doncaster last month, on his first start since September.

Mr Lupton bagged a valuable prize at the Curragh on Sunday and is in line for a quick reappearance for Richard Fahey, with Tim Easterby considering the race for his Great St Wilfrid Handicap scorer Staxton.

Mick Appleby’s Danzeno, the William Haggas-trained Nahaarr and Atalanta’s Boy, from David Menusier’s stable, are just a few of the others in contention after 162 hopefuls stood their ground.

There are the Silver and Bronze Cups as consolation races for those who miss out on the big one.

Ayr Sprint Cups and the Draw…

Ayr's Western meeting is headlined by the Gold Cup, a very high class six furlong handicap. Such is its popularity that the meeting also hosts not one but two consolation races, the Silver and Bronze Cups.

What that means is a reasonable body of big field evidence from which to conjecture about the draw. Geegeez Gold also has some pretty neat tools to support those ruminations.

First, we need to establish the likely going. With a largely dry forecast, the ground should be somewhere between good and good to soft by Saturday, when the Silver and Gold Cups are hosted. Today, the official going is soft, good to soft in places. We'll use the history of all big field six furlong sprints since 2009 at the track.

 

Ayr 6 Furlong Draw (Overall)

Here's how the high/middle/low split looks in six furlong races of 16 runners or more since 2009 at Ayr:

All 16+ runner 6f races at Ayr since 2009

All 16+ runner 6f races at Ayr since 2009

 

As you can see, low is marginally favoured over middle, which in turn is favoured over high. That's based on place percentages across a sample of almost 600 runners.

 

Ayr 6 Furlong Draw (Good, Good to Soft, Soft only)

Because we have a reasonable (relative to other course/distance combinations) sample size, we can restrict our going range to something closer to this weekend's reality. In this image, I'm looking only at soft to good ground:

Ayr big field 6 furlong races on good, good to soft, or soft ground

Ayr big field 6 furlong races on good, good to soft, or soft ground

 

Here we can see that low is still favoured, though not by as much, with high some way behind. All of these views show the place percentage, which allows for a slightly largely sample of placers than winners. Focusing only on winners would show a similar 'low and middle dominating high' perspective.

 

A More Granular Look...

So that's cut and dried then, no? Low to middle favoured. High can win but historically not so much. Sadly, it's not quite as simple as that. Look at this race-by-race breakdown of the draw positions of the placed horses in 16+ runners six furlong races run at Ayr on ground ranging from good through to soft, since 2009.

 

Ayr 6f place draw breakdown, 16+ runners

Ayr 6f place draw breakdown, 16+ runners

 

What is striking - to me - is how 'random' the spread of stall positions is. But look more closely and you might be able to discern a 'cluster' effect: groups of proximitous stalls appearing in the same result.

 

Holy Clusters, Batman!

Last year, the Gold Cup first four were in stalls between four and nine; and the Silver Cup saw three of the first four home in adjacent boxes two to four. Indeed, in the image below we can see how prevalent this place clustering actually is.

 

Ayr 6f big field place clustering

Ayr 6f big field place clustering

 

Note the red comments, where three or all four placed horses came from a small portion of the draw. This starts to look anything but random. And yet, we still have the challenge of establishing, ahead of time, where these 'pockets of success' might be. The crucial thing is that, over the course of seven years, they have - on different occasions - been spread across the track.

 

What About Pace?

So perhaps there is no discernible draw bias. Is that possible? In the below table, I've added some early pace information. Below the table, I'll explain what it means.

 

Effect and location of early pace in 6f big field Ayr sprints

Effect and location of early pace in 6f big field Ayr sprints

 

This was somewhat labour intensive, and is a little bit subjective, in terms of using pace comments to determine those with early dash in the races. However, as a totality, I think there are some interesting findings.

The green numbers in the placing boxes are placed horses that had early pace in the race. The stall positions, quantity, and placed quantity, of early pacers are in the three right hand columns.

Of the 460 runners to contest these 19 races, 76 filled out the first four placings (16.5%). The 131 early pacers (28.5% of the runners) managed to claim 29 of the 76 top four placings (38%), which is a third higher than random.

So we can be reasonably confident that early pace is generally favoured in these races, something borne out by Gold's pace tab:

 

Performance, by run style, of all 6f races at Ayr since 2009

Performance, by run style, of all 6f races at Ayr since 2009

 

The table below the blobs shows a clear linear relationship, especially on place percentage, by run style. Early leaders are almost twice as likely to win than random, while those held up perform significantly below expectations. Of course, the 'tail end Charlie' group includes a lot of no-hopers in open race company, which over-emphasizes the point but, nevertheless, a prominent/front rank early position is generally advantageous.

Although the data are far from unequivocal - sadly, pigeonholes rarely work effectively when trying to solve the biggest racing puzzles - it would seem that pace is a more important commodity than draw, although being drawn close to some 'community pace' looks a solid advantage.

 

Who's going to win? Bronze Cup

This is the bit where I put my money where my mouth is. Using the info above, as well as the Instant Expert and various other bits and bobs, I'll offer a suggestion or two. Keep in mind that the scope for egg on face here is high, so caveat emptor!

Pretty much all of the early zip looks to be low, as you can see here:

Ayr Bronze Cup: pace looks to be low

Ayr Bronze Cup: pace looks to be low

 

Here's what the Instant Expert makes of the form in the book:

Instant Expert's view of the Bronze Cup

Instant Expert's view of the Bronze Cup

 

Ocean Sheridan, drawn nine, and a fan of softish ground, has shown he can handle big fields and is a distance specialist. He represents a northern trainer who targets the meeting, and should run a big race at around 10/1.

Giant Spark has an obvious chance, one which is very well accounted for in a quote of 5/1.

At bigger prices, Marjorie Fife's Best Trip could blaze a trail for a long way, and come out best of her three entries. 25/1 should give a run for your money at least.

A good egg on face avoidance strategy is to take one from 'the other side' just in case (!), and Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady has plenty of juice in her quote of 25/1. Keatley showed yesterday he's in fine fettle, and has a belting overall record at the track.

Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady may be drawn on the wrong side, but she has a decennt profile otherwise

Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady may be drawn on the wrong side, but she has a decent profile otherwise

 

Who's going to win? Gold and Silver Cups

Here at geegeez, we try to teach people to fish, as the old adage goes, and we have top of the range rods and bait inside Geegeez Gold. So it is that, with a nod of encouragement, I invite you to do your own angling for a tasty fish supper in Saturday's races. If you come up dry, don't carp about it though (groan)!

Good luck,
Matt

 

p.s. Geegeez Gold is £30 monthly but, for the next few days only, you can secure a huge discount by signing up as an annual subscriber. £197 gets you twelve months' access here: http://www.geegeez.co.uk/invest-in-gold/

Please note: Annual subs will rise for new annual subscribers only to £249 from next Monday, 19th September. If you're on a trial, or have already upgraded to Annual, you will be unaffected by the price rise and will be 'grandfathered' in on the soon-to-be old rate for the term of your subscription. (NB it is your responsibility not to let it lapse!)

 

Here's that link again: http://www.geegeez.co.uk/invest-in-gold/