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.

High Summer once more at Newmarket

Summerghand swooped late to register a 16-1 surprise in the Listed Close Brothers Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket.

David O’Meara’s popular seven-year-old was beaten just a neck in the six-furlong heat in 2020, but he righted the record with a clear-cut defeat of 2-1 favourite Tabdeed.

Summerghand landed the Group Three Abernant Stakes on the Rowley Mile course back in April but after finishing a fair fourth in the Duke of York Stakes the following month, he had struggled to make an impact in three subsequent starts.

Summerghand was settled towards the rear by Martin Harley as Royal Crusade set the early pace and still had plenty to do as Khaadem went for home two furlongs out.

However, Summerghand found plenty for pressure in the final furlong, assuming control with half a furlong to run and shooting clear to win by two and a half lengths from Tabdeed, who was staying on all the way to the line.

Adaay To Remember was a further head back in third.

Harley said: “This is more of his grade these days. He ran in the July Cup and when they quicken away, he gets a bit disheartened.

“Today they went quick and when he started to pass one or two tiring horses, he really got his momentum up and finished strong.

“I was a bit worried about the ground as it was kicking up out there, but as the pace was so strong early and a few horses started coming back to him, he really came into his own during the last furlong and a half.

“He is a tough horse and in Listed and Group Threes he is very competitive, but when he goes in Group Twos and Group Ones he is taking on a different sort of horse. He is a proper tough horse.

“David has done a fantastic job keeping the horse fresh and sweet. He was a winner on the Rowley Mile winning that Group Three in April.

“Fair play to David and I’m thankful for the ride. David rang me up and said ‘do whatever you think is right’. I didn’t want to drop him out today and I said ‘let’s keep him in midfield’ and the rest is history.”

Summer special denies Oxted in Abernant

Summerghand finished with a flourish to deny hot favourite Oxted back-to-back victories in the bet365 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.

The Group Three contest proved a springboard to Group One glory for Roger Teal’s Oxted last season as he successfully moved from the Rowley Mile to the July Course to win the July Cup.

Down the field in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia on his latest appearance, the five-year-old was widely expected to bounce back to back to winning ways on his return turf – but odds-on backers had their fingers burnt by David O’Meara’s stable stalwart Summerghand.

With Ryan Moore taking over in the saddle from the sidelined Cieren Fallon, 8-13 chance Oxted travelled strongly for much of the five-furlong contest before battling his way to the lead inside the closing stages.

However, he was unable to resist the late charge of 7-1 shot Summerghand, who followed up his victory on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield less than a fortnight ago by three-quarters of a length under Danny Tudhope.

Tudhope said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s getting better with age, a lot of David’s do, especially sprinters.

“He’s a top-class sprinter and the visors have helped him as well the last two runs.

“The way the race panned out was perfect, he loves having cover and passing horses.

“He likes something to aim at, but in the big handicaps it just never fell right for him. The visors just seem to sharpen him up.”

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Hamed Rashed Bin Ghedayer, said: “He’s been beautifully trained, he can’t do much at home, I’m sure, but he just needs a fast gallop and something to aim at.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go right and with a small field it’s a bit apprehensive, but it looked like we just had one to beat today.

“Bigger fields do suit, but then you need the luck to get a run.

“His form suggests he’s improving, I just think like most horses, as they get older they get over their problems and get stronger.”

I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but we can get him back – every horse gets beat

Oxted could possibly drop back to five furlongs, as Teal considers future options.

Teal said: “Ryan thinks he probably committed a little bit early and got in a little bit of a duel, he said he probably should have held on to him for another 100 yards or so, but like I said to Ryan, it probably wasn’t all that and the trip to Saudi might just have taken the edge off for the moment.

“We’ll freshen him up. I’m disappointed we didn’t win, but we can get him back – every horse gets beat. On ratings he should have been two or three lengths clear. He didn’t hit the hill like he did last year, but we’re not panicking.

“We’ll have a look at Royal Ascot and might even have a look at the King’s Stand. The way he’s travelling there and on Champions Day, at five he’d have won. We might have a look at both races (King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee). It’s disappointing to get beat, but there you go.”

Teal turns to Moore in place of sidelined Fallon on Oxted

Roger Teal has been forced to find a new jockey for Oxted as his star sprinter bids for back-to-back victories in the Group Three Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.

Cieren Fallon is Oxted’s usual pilot, and scored the biggest win of his career so far on him when they landed the Group One July Cup last season.

The champion apprentice suffered a heavy weekend fall on the all-weather at Lingfield, though – and despite returning for one unplaced ride at Newmarket on Tuesday, he will not be available to partner Oxted on Thursday.

“We’ve had to change the jockey today – Cieren’s not feeling to great, so Ryan Moore rides him now,” said Teal.

“Hopefully they’ll get on together – I’m looking forward to running him.”

Oxted, ridden by Cieren Fallon, (left) winning the Darley July Cup Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse
Oxted (left), ridden by Cieren Fallon, winning the Darley July Cup at Newmarket (Edward Whitaker/PA)

The five-year-old won the Abernant on his return last season, the second leg of a long-range hat-trick of successes which began with the 2019 Portland Handicap at Doncaster and culminated in the July Cup.

The Mayson gelding was then beaten just a length in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot and, on his only subsequent appearance, was hindered by a wide draw a trip when midfield in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia.

Oxted was drawn in stall one when winning this race last season and has this time been dealt rather a different hand – widest of all in seven.

“It is a bit different to last year, but there are only seven runners,” said Teal.

“You can’t change it, and it’s not a disaster.

“He’ll love the good ground, so that won’t be a bother either. I’d love to have been drawn a bit lower, but that is what it is.

“He is well, we’re very happy with him – so fingers crossed for a big run.”

Leading the opposition is David O’Meara’s Summerghand, who returns to the turf after winning the All-Weather Sprint Championships Final at Lingfield on Good Friday.

Summerghand ridden by Adam Kirby riding (left) winning the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield
Summerghand and Adam Kirby (left) winning the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The seven-year-old, busy on synthetic surfaces since February and on the turf at Doncaster last month, has race fitness and a handy draw on his side.

“He’s in good form, he won on the finals day at Lingfield recently,” said O’Meara.

“He’s come out of the race well. He goes well at Newmarket and he’s won there in the past.

“He’s been running through the winter and he won recently, so he’s shown he’s in good form.

“I suppose if we were ever going to have a chance of beating the likes of Oxted, it might be on his first run of the season when we’ve got a few runs under our belt.”

The field of seven also features Karl Burke’s Exalted Angel, who finished just a head behind Summerghand at Lingfield, and the Andrew Balding-trained grey Shine So Bright.

Kevin Ryan is represented by Emaraaty Ana, second ahead of Summerghand in the Listed Cammidge Trophy on his seasonal return, with Henry Candy’s Jouska and John Ryan’s Marly also taking their chances.

Summerghand pips Exalted Angel in Sprint thriller

Summerghand got up in the dying strides to snatch the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.

Wearing a visor for the first time, Summerghand pegged back Exalted Angel on the line in the hands of Adam Kirby in a driving finish to the six-furlong heat.

Aberama Gold got a flier from his rail draw and took the field along with Tone The Barone, Exalted Angel and Highland Dress all handy.

The field spread wide on the turn for home with the race very much up for grabs.

Summerghand (6-1), trained by David O’Meara, got into top gear in the final furlong though, edging out Exalted Angel by a head to land his first success since the Stewards’ Cup last summer.

The seven-year-old was making a swift reappearance having contested the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster last Saturday.

Kirby said: “He’s a horse with a lot of ability and a good bit of class.

“Unfortunately, last time at Doncaster he didn’t get the rub and at Wolverhampton before that gave the winner a lot of weight. He was due to win.

“I was content in my position following Brian The Snail. I decided to pull out and luckily a horse stopped at just the right time when I was about to start my run.

“I therefore didn’t lose too much ground and it worked out well. I think the visor put a bit of an edge on Summerghand.

“Full credit to David O’Meara and his team. Hopefully, we continue to have a bit of luck together.

“It’s great to have a winner on Finals Day.”

O’Meara mulling QEII date for Lord Glitters

David O’Meara is considering returning Lord Glitters to the scene of his greatest triumph, in next month’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The evergreen seven-year-old has been out of luck since claiming last year’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he has run a number of solid races in defeat – including when finding only Addeybb too strong in the Listed Doonside Cup at Ayr on Saturday.

O’Meara was satisfied with that effort and hopes Lord Glitters’ previous good form at Ascot would be a plus if he were to return to Group One company there.

O’Meara said: “It was a good run by Lord Glitters at Ayr, and I was happy. I thought for a moment we were going to get there, but Addeybb just got first run on us.

“Where we go next, I’m not completely sure. He is in the QEII, and we could go there.

“Palace Pier will be very hard to beat, but Lord Glitters loves it there and he could pick up the pieces.”

Lord Glitters has run over further than a mile on each of his last three starts, but O’Meara believes dropping back to that trip would be no issue.

He added: “He has been running over further lately, but he would be fine going back to a mile.

“He won the Strensall Stakes at York a couple of years ago, and we then dropped him back to a mile, and he was fine.”

Summerghand could make his next appearance in the Group Three John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot (Dan Abraham/PA)
Summerghand could make his next appearance in the Group Three John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot (Dan Abraham/PA)

O’Meara may send his Stewards’ Cup hero Summerghand to Ascot on Saturday week for the Group Three John Guest Bengough Stakes.

The Lope De Vega gelding was last seen finishing down the field on his Group One debut in the Sprint Cup at Haydock earlier this month.

O’Meara added: “It was a big step up from Newmarket to the Sprint Cup at Haydock, but I thought he ran OK.

“He is in a Group Three in Ireland on Saturday, but he might go to Ascot for the Bengough Stakes. We will keep an open mind.”

Eagles By Day, left, is likely to be put away for the remainder of the campaign (Dan Abraham/PA)
Eagles By Day, left, is likely to be put away for the remainder of the campaign (Dan Abraham/PA)

There will be no trip to Australia for the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 3 for Eagles By Day, with O’Meara considering drawing stumps for the season with the son of Sea The Stars.

He added: “Eagles By Day will probably have a break now for the rest of the year. I liked his run the first day for us at York (won the John Smith’s Silver Cup), then I thought he ran well enough in the Goodwood Cup.

“I’m not sure he totally stayed the trip in his next two starts, in the Lonsdale Cup and Doncaster Cup. We might just come back a little bit in trip with him next year.”

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.