There were a few successes from the horses previewed yesterday evening with a trio of 3 year old winners at Newmarket, Archie Rice (4/1), North East Corner (5/1) and Oasis Knight (5/1).
The Ayr Gold Cup
Tomorrow sees the Ayr Gold Cup which is one of the biggest betting heats of the flat season. So it seems to make sense to start tonight’s preview there.
Dandy Nicholls has been the trainer to follow in the recent past with 4 wins from the last 10 renewals. The trainer’s son Adrian has ridden 2 of those winners so he does seem to be able to pick ‘em. This year he is riding Tajneed who has won 2 of his 4 starts this season, most recently getting home by a head from his stable companion Valery Borzov in the Great St Wilfred Handicap at Ripon. Valery Borzov has had a successful campaign winning 3 times already and he certainly comes into the reckoning here as well.
No favourite has won the Ayr Gold Cup during the last 10 years and 4 winners have started at 20/1 or bigger so it is worth considering a few outsiders. Another Nicholls runner of interest and one that should start at a nice price is Turnkey. He hasn’t run since coming 4th at Doncaster in early May and it is just possible that he has been laid out for this. He acts on soft ground and gets on well with his rider, young Adele Rothery. He tends to be ridden with exaggerated hold up tactics and whether Adele can weave her way though this big field from the back remains to be seen.
Another horse that just could be a bit of a “plot” for this is Karl Burke’s Aahayson. His form stands up to close inspection having finished runner up to Sakhee’s Secret last April. He seems to handle any ground. At a shorter price Hogmaneigh is sure to have his supporters as he comes here just 7 days after his triumph in the valuable Portland Handicap at Doncaster where he beat River Falcon by a short head. He is another confirmed hold up horse so will need a degree of luck in running. Soft ground will not be a problem though. The runner up River Falcon is a grand sort and still going strong at the age of 8. He was 6th last year off a mark of 99 but is now down to 92 with Kelly Harrison taking off a further 5. River Falcon is trained by Jim Goldie who also saddles Dhaular Dhar. I used to think that this 6 year old was only worth considering at sharp tracks such as Chester and Catterick but a couple of really good second place efforts in valuable Ascot handicaps this season have rather blown that theory away. I am not convinced that 6 furlongs is his trip though as he seems best at 7.
There are a couple of former winners of the race in the line up in Advanced and Fonthill Road. Advanced won last season and comes back in good nick as he has finished runner up on his last two starts. He has actually come down the weights since last year’s win so we have to give him plenty of respect. The admirable Fonthill Road won in 2006 beating Borderlescott but has risen 7 lbs in the ratings since then. Freddie Tylicki is an able apprentice though and he takes 5 lbs off. Fonthill Road was 2nd in 2005 and 5th in 2007 so clearly likes this race and is one for the shortlist. Knot in Wood won at Hamilton a few runs ago beating Baby Strange by a nose. Both horses are a little higher in the weights now, which is making them hard to place. Knot in Wood was 3rd in the Stewards Cup in 2007 (off 98) and 4th in this season’s Wokingham, again off 98. He is a danger but a rating of 102 might just anchor him.
Patavellian is not the force of old at the age of 10 but he was 3rd last year and has come down the weights since so is not out of it. Skhilling Spirit is best with plenty of give in the ground. He is quite a consistent sort when he gets his conditions and he could just come in at a silly price.
Northern Fling won on soft ground at Doncaster over 5 furlongs in April. He finished last in this race in 2007 but is better than that. Mmm – rather a long short list! In the Silver Cup this afternoon those drawn low got the better of the argument but to be on the safe side I am going to pick one from each side of the draw for my “final answer.”
From the low draws Patavellian, Fonthill Road and River Falcon are all over 7 and older horses have a poor record so I am going to cross them off my list. Dhaular Dhar is better at 7 furlongs which leaves me with Advanced and Valery Borzov. Four year olds have a good record and given the fact that he is trained by Dandy Nicholls I am going to choose Valery Borzov from stall 7. Hogmaneigh, Northern Fling, Tajneed and Skhilling Spirit qualify from those drawn high. Tajneed is the choice of Adrian Nicholls and gets the nod.
The hat trick seeking Perks is rated 110 after a very profitable 2008 so far which rather rules him out of handicaps. If he lines up in the listed race at 4.40 he would be interesting as he loves soft ground and is on an upward curve. Another real mudlark in this field is the William Haggas trained Mutajarred. If the ground is riding soft these would be the two I would concentrate on.
Tarkheena Prince has done well for me this season with two wins at nice odds. He lines up in the 5.15 where he is significantly upped in distance. Tarkheena Prince handles soft ground and although the trip is an unknown his shrewd trainer would not be running him if he had really significant stamina doubts. One that will certainly get the trip is Let’s Roll as he won the race in 2005 and 2006.
Earlier on the card at Ayr I would expect a big run from Zero Tolerance in the 2.50 as long as the ground rides soft. His career record on soft or heavy going reads 1211401014013.
The other Saturday cards
I see that Sir Mark Prescott introduces 2 year old Alicante in the 1.55 at Catterick. This grey filly has plenty of stamina on the dam’s side. The dam, Alba Stella won twice over 12 furlongs and Alicante is related to a number of other middle distance winners such as Aleatricis, Albinus and the Derby runner up Dragon Dancer. She runs over 5 furlongs tomorrow which makes me think her trainer is lining her up for a nice low handicap mark to start next season with!
Red Max makes his first appearance in a nursery in the 3.00 and has an each way chance at around 14/1 now that he also runs over 7 furlongs for the first time. In the 3.35 we have a runner from our list to follow in Inspector Clouseau. Tom Tate’s 3 year old has not lived up to expectation and is yet to win this season. With both trip and ground a bit uncertain I can’t really tip him.
There are some interesting newcomers in the 1.35 at Newbury, including John Dunlop’s Sadlers Wells colt Tactic who is related to some decent performers. A late foal he may only come into his own next season but he is one to watch. Netta is a half sister to Molomo and Pepperwood who were quite decent middle distance winners while another I like to Skanky Biscuit who is the subject of some good reports.
Carnaby Haggerston was perhaps a slightly unlucky loser when 3rd at Haydock last time and looks a fair each way proposition in the nursery handicap at 2.05.
Alexander Castle was runner up in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at this time last season but connections have had little cause to crack open the Tizer during his 3 year old season thus far. He runs in a handicap for the first time in the 3.10 at Newbury tomorrow where he has a mark of 104 which seems on the high side. He runs over 10 furlongs here trying the longer distance for the first time. This could be interesting as his sire Lemon Drop Kid is an influence for stamina. Last season’s winner Monte Alto is also in the field.
Another horse trying for back to back wins in a race is Rowe Park in the 3.45. He has not run since taking this race last season and to be honest, until his most recent effort he had looked off form. He showed a little more spark when 4th of 7 at Nottingham in August but will need to be back to his best against the likes of Green Manalishi, Reverence, Fullandby and Galeota.
The one that catches my eye in the 4.20 is Roger Charlton’s Splendorinthegrass. This colt is a half brother to Etlaala, a Group 2 winner and also Selective who was runner up in the Lincoln in 2003.
Alfathaa won at Newbury as a 2 year old but has not managed to follow that up, tending to race too keenly. Two runs ago he put in a reasonable effort when 2nd at Newmarket but then disappointed when last of 8 at Goodwood. Possibly the Sussex track didn’t suit but even so it does require something of a leap of faith to back him tomorrow in the 4.55.
In the Newmarket 2.40 West With the Wind has conditions generally in his favour and may be able to win at the sixth time of asking but he is likely to be a short price.
Montbretia only ran once as a juvenile but started her 3 year old campaign in pleasing style when finishing runner up to subsequent Oaks 4th Clowance. She followed up with a win at Nottingham in July and runs tomorrow in the 3.15, a filly’s handicap. She is lightly raced, clearly goes well fresh and looks interesting.
Electrolyser hasn’t run for 227 days but returns to action tomorrow in the Newmarket 3.50. He has only raced twice in his life, both on the all weather in the winter. He won the second of these races, a maiden at Lingfield and it is difficult to assess just how good he is. It will have been hard for the handicapper to rate him and being so lightly raced he just might be better than his rating. He has an each way chance at around 8/1.
Finally, there are two runners from my list to follow in action at Wolverhampton, Wing Play a course and distance winner in the 7.20 and Silvanus, a winner at Kempton at the end of July, in the 8.50.
Given that racing tomorrow is from the birthplace of Robert Burns I will leave you with a quote from the poet, “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.”
My thanks to the artists Lisa Miller (top picture) and Katie Scorgie (2nd and 3rd pictures) for allowing me to use their material. Further examples of their work can be found by referring to my links.