The £180,000 Ayr Gold Cup, run over six furlongs, is always fiercely competitive as might be expected of such as valuable contest (3.45pm Saturday on CH4 TV).
However, just one favourite has won in the last 20 years and just two winners in that period were returned at single-figure odds, so the race presents decent betting opportunities.
The favourite Don’t Touch (7/1) seems an obvious starting point. The Dutch Art gelding didn’t see a racecourse until May, but is unbeaten after four starts and became the first three-year-old for 16 years to win the prestigious Great St. Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon five weeks ago.
It is worth noting that there were six non-runners in the Great St. Wilfrid, which reduced its competitiveness by usual standards, but the form has already been franked by the fourth, Eccleston, who contests the Ayr Silver Cup earlier in the afternoon. Don’t Touch clearly faces his stiffest task to date off a 5lb higher mark, but displayed a potent turn of foot at Ripon and is a must for any shortlist.
Highland Acclaim (12/1) races off the same handicap mark as when ninth of 27, beaten 4½ lengths, behind stable companion Louis The Pious in this race last year, but comes into the race on the back of a decent effort in the Portland last Saturday and may be capable of better this time around.
David O’Meara’s four-year-old stayed on strongly to finish a never nearer fifth of 20, beaten 2¾ lengths, on that occasion and the extra half a furlong is in his favour.
Topweight Jack Dexter (14/1) has been well-backed to become the first Scottish-trained winner of the Ayr Gold Cup for 40 years. Jim Goldie’s six-year-old has been plying his trade in Listed and Pattern company for most of this season, but was far from disgraced, off a 1lb higher mark, when eighth of 27, beaten 3¾ lengths, behind the highly progressive Magical Memory in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood seven weeks ago. That performance came on good to firm going so, granted his preference for cut in the ground, it is not difficult to see why he is proving popular.
Of those at longer odds, Sound Advice (33/1) has found some improvement of late and may be capable of running well, despite never having tackled six furlongs. His trainer Keith Dalgleish (pictured) acknowledges that the straight six furlongs at Ayr represents a different test from 7½ furlongs around Chester, where he’s won the last twice, but believes his previous course winner will be competitive all the same.
Sound Advice has yet to win on going softer than good, so connections will be hoping for drying conditions, but he is completely unexposed over sprint distances and could go well at a big price.
Despite a maximum field of 25 runners, the prospect of rain-softened ground may mean that the Ayr Gold Cup is not, for once, as competitive as the numbers suggest and Jack Dexter can follow in the footsteps of the last Scottish-trained winner Roman Warrior in 1975.