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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.