Golden Steps to Gold Cup Glory + more

It’s another action packed Saturday with attention turning to Ayr for the Gold and Silver Cup races. The question everyone is asking after yesterday’s racing there is if the high draw will be as important as in previous years.

I’ll take a look into both of the two mentioned races plus more north of the border plus races from Newbury.

Last weekend we saw the controversy after Bondi Beach was awarded the St Leger by the Stewards after slight interference from the filly Simple Verse. Then Golden Horn won the Irish Champion Stakes but kept the race after interfering with Free Eagle. Were the decisions correct?


13:45 Newbury

This is down as an Arc trial and the focus should be on Eagle Top, who has conditions in his favour. It doesn’t look the best of renewals and the market looks to have got it right. With Battalion already taken out we’re down to five runners and no each-way appeal in the race. John Gosden’s four-year-old is quite lightly raced and proved himself in these sort of conditions when second by a nose to Postponed in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. On paper it could be a tactical race but Frankie Dettori is likely to settle the favourite out in front and dictate the race.

The Corsican has won with cut in the ground but has been withdrawn on ground described as good to soft after trainer David Simcock felt he was better on quick ground. If he takes his chance then he could be a threat to the favourite. He was given a shocker at Goodwood where he should have won but was second to Dubday. Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle and has claims to trouble the favourite. Hillstar won this race last year but hasn’t found any of that form to the table this year. Sky Hunter returns from an absence of 196-days. If fully tuned up following that absence he is quite interesting considering he won the Group 3 St Simon Stakes here on similar ground. However giving the amount of weight away he is, he may find it difficult. Ooty Hill has only had two starts and is unexposed. He comes into this following a second to Star Of Seville last time and that form has been franked since. He handled soft ground on debut to win well but may lack the experience in this sort of contest.

Advice: Eagle Top (5/6 Win)


14:00 Ayr – Firth Of Clyde Stakes

This is a Group 3 race for two-year-old fillies over 6f and will be the first indication of the day about the draw. However if you can read to much into it with being a juveniles race is another matter.

Priceless was impressive when scoring emphatically on debut at Haydock. Clive Cox doesn’t tend to have many win on their debuts but this filly looked a potential group horse in the making that day. The way see travelled strongly into the race before clearing stylishly was very impressive and she is the one they all have to beat here. Having had that debut run she is likely to find improvement so has to be rightly feared. At her current overnight price of 5/2 it seems fair for the way she did her work on debut but there are two at bigger prices that could challenge her.

For value purposes the two I’d put forward are Chiringuita and Silhuette. Firstly James Bethell’s runner, who entered the tracker after an eye catching win on debut at Pontefract. Again Bethell isn’t a trainer renowned for having juveniles winning on their debuts. She did that nicely but disappointed at Sandown in a Listed race where she was held up but was staying on. Sandown is a track is pays to be near the pace, so the tactics may have cost her that day, so that can possibly be forgiven. She was better at Ripon in another Listed contest where she raced closer to the leaders only to be beaten by the game Whitman, who made all. For me back in against her own gender she could have more to offer and looks a big price. Silhuette is more of a chanced pick but she beat Donjuan Triumphant on debut and he got off the mark in the Nursery ran here yesterday after placing on his previous start at Haydock. If he was to be the yardstick then this Ann Duffield juvenile did enough to defeat him on debut. In that Carlisle maiden she won on debut she missed the break and was held up before staying on strongly to win. She followed that up by winning a conditions race at Ripon beating Unilit, who has since finished third to La Rioja in a Group 3. Ann Duffield has a good record in this race winning it in two of the last three years. This daughter of Canford Cliffs is also related to a number of two-year-old winners, so is worth keeping onside here.

Whatdoiwantthatfor comes into this race with useful from and has to be respected having placed second behind La Rioja in the Group 3 Dick Poole Fillies Stakes and also placing third behind Besharah in the Group 3 Juddmonte Stakes at Ascot. She won a Listed race over 5f at Newbury and sets a fairly good standard. Highly tried but consistent is the best way to sum her up. She’s never been out of the first three and you can get odds against on her to finish top 3 and that would be the way in with her.

Delizia is the likely pace angle and won a Listed race at York over 5f on her second start. She was fourth when last seen at also on the Knavesmire only beaten 1l by Tasleet. That was a good run and running up to that level would see her go close. Mustique has only had one run and showed potential after winning at Ripon. These colours have been carried to Group success with Amazing Maria this season plus they were in the winners enclosure here yesterday when Constantino won. She has more to offer and wasn’t beaten about to score at Ripon. If the market support comes then she is one to take seriously. The other to mention is Only Mine for Joseph Murphy. She’s been sent over from Tipperary and has Pat Smullen on board meaning they’re here to show how good this filly is. On debut she was behind Rockaway Valley and Air Vice Marshal, so that was a good maiden. For her second start she finished second in the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes beaten by Most Beautiful, who has since finished third in a Group 2 contest. She got off the mark at odds of 2/5 on her third start before not seeing out the 7f trip last time and can be forgiven for that effort. She has been ridden prominently on her best two efforts, so expect that to be the plan here.

Advice: Chiringuita (16/1 each-way – Betfair)

            Silhuette (12/1 each-way – Paddy Power)


14:35 Ayr – William Hill Silver Cup

A race where the draw usually plays a big part. In recent years the winners have come from stall 21, 20, 26 and 27 respectively. However this year may not prove to be the case. Yesterday we saw Go Far win the Bronze Cup drawn in 13 and the second Tiger Jim came from stall three. While in the other big field sprint the winner Compton Heights came from stall 12 with the second a fast finishing El Viento coming from stall nine. With that taken into account a lower draw may be more beneficial than has proved in recent years. That alone suggests the draw may be less of a factor and we should see racing on a level playing field.

On form George Bowen has leading claims after winning decisively after overcoming a wide draw at the Curragh on Sunday. It is easy to give him a positive mention even under a penalty, as he could be well treated. He won the Greys race at Newmarket in a good time and comes here in fine fettle. He is drawn down the middle, which gives him obvious claims. Steve Prescott was third in the Newmarket race in a strong time and he has to come into considerations at a big price here. He’s a horse that likes to be ridden close to the pace and at York when last seen he dwelt out of the stalls forfeiting ground meaning the race didn’t play to his strengths. If breaking on level terms he’ll give you a good showing under George Chaloner. He is 8lb higher than his last win three starts ago but if able to break on terms and with the ground drying he looks to be a player. Richard Fahey has already had three winners over the two previous days and will be looking to build on that today.

Foxtrot Romeo was fourth in this last year. His last win came on the all-weather at Wolverhampton and that is only one of two career wins but his mark has fallen to one that looks workable. He is drawn in the middle and with this likely to be a strongly ran affair it is one that should suit him and could see him making late progress under Sam James. Shared Equity is consistent to say the least. He was third here in June behind Tiger Jim and Nameitwhatyoulike; Tiger Jim was second in the Bronze Cup yesterday and the Nameitwhatyoulike re-opposes here. He is one to look at to place because his mark is possibly too high.

As mentioned above Nameitwhatyoulike was second here in June behind Tiger Jim and has been quite consistent for Bryan Smart. He was fairly eye-catching at Ripon when last seen in the Great St Wilfrid Consolation race. He raced on the opposite side to the winner Shipyard and was only beaten by a head leading home his group. That race was on soft ground and it was still a good showing, so with the ground drying out it may play into his favour a bit more. Drawn in stall 15 gives Tom Eaves the perfect route down the centre of the track, which should be where they race. One to take seriously with his latest run.

An Saighdiur has been third in this race on two previous occasions (2012 and 2013.) On both occasions he was drawn high, which suited. Following the racing yesterday his draw in stall nine could see him get involved. He is carrying a penalty but has been competitive off higher marks in the past. He may prefer the ground slower than it is likely to be. If you read regularly you know I’ve put Tatlisu up on a number of occasions recently. He’s an in then out performer and if you take his form literally then he should put in a good run today. His last effort he was arguably beaten by the 7f trip and dropping back to 6f is a plus. One of these days everything will drop right and see him claim a big prize but I can’t have him today.

Johara is only one of two females in the race and can be competitive. If history does actually repeat itself then the draw for her would be a positive. A good fourth at Thirsk behind Eccleston when last seen and that form is working out well. The second was second again at Doncaster last week and the fifth, sixth and eighth won out of it since. She may have been the hard luck story from that race after being asked to do a lot from near the rear and was staying on. If ridden more prominently then a replication of something close to that run should see her be competitive.

Of the rest then Hillbilly Boy is interesting having his second run for Tom Dascombe. Most of his recent form has been over further but he won his maiden over this trip. He’s usually ridden prominently, so Hayley Turner may be given orders to make the most of his extra stamina, which could try and see the five-year-old attempt to make all. It’s worth a try and if they are the tactics then he can’t be discounted. The other to mention is Eccleston. As mentioned above he won at Thirsk in a hot handicap with the form franked on plenty of occasions recently. However under the penalty he may not be as well treated as others. If in the same form as that win then he’s a player and drawn centrally is a positive. He’ll be one to watch finishing the race strongly.

With races of this nature make sure you search for the best value. The majority of bookies will be offering five places, so make sure you utilise that too!

Advice: Nameitwhatyoulike (16/1 each-way)

            Steve Prescott (33/1 each-way – Paddy Power)


14:50 Newbury – Handicap 

Cymro comes into this race looking very well treated. He won at Haydock in convincing style on softish ground and for that carries a 5lb penalty, which puts him 2lb ahead of the handicapper. This three-year-old seems to relish these sort of conditions over this trip winning on all three occasions over this trip with some cut in the ground. This is a fair track, so the draw shouldn’t be a concern and for me he is the one to beat on paper.

Laurence carries a 5lb penalty too for his win at Beverley. He stayed on nicely that day to suggest there was more to come plus he is also 2lb ahead of the handicapper, so should give his running. The only slight reservations about him would be on the ground. His first two maiden starts came with cut in the ground and his finished third on both occasions. On pedigree he should handle the ground with him being a son of Dubawi and his half-brother Arab Dawn has also proved himself in these sort of conditions.

What About Carlo finally got a win under his belt at Epsom last time in a three-runner handicap on heavy ground. He’s gone back up in the weights because of that. Those sort of races can boost confidence and if running up to that level then he could get in contention. Where do you start with Sir Michael Stoute’s Top Tug? He got no luck on his return to the track at Goodwood but when third at York over 1m4f he was beaten by 2l for which he has gone up 4lb. For me he isn’t a horse I could back knowing he can find trouble in-running too often. He does have conditions in his favour and Jamie Spencer takes the ride for the first time. If Spencer decides to use that stamina and sit him prominently knowing his history of luckless runs then you’d be expecting a big run. However he is usually held up, therefore not one I could confidently put forward.

With the ground being soft and described as tacky during racing yesterday it may suit a front running type. There is an interesting trio of potential leaders for this race with Tom Hark, Mica Mika and Noble Gift in the line up. Firstly Tom Hark is more suited by a sounder surface and still has to prove himself on this sort of ground. Mica Mika has solid claims after winning a handicap at Chester on similar ground. He was narrowly beaten at Ayr on two of his last three starts, by a nose and a short head, when making the running. His mark has gone up another 3lb for his latest second meaning this seven-year-old has a career-high mark to race off here. Noble Gift is worth some small each-way money. Callum Shepherd is able to claim 7lb and takes him down to a fairly workable mark. He’s rode the horse on the last five occasions and made all to win at Kempton over 1m3f. Then he has put in some good front running rides and not getting much luck. At Goodwood he was fourth only denied third a few yards from the line. With conditions like this he could make the running and nothing to get in it with his rivals unable to quicken. His best form does come on the all weather but he has won over further at the past including a 1m4f handicap at Goodwood last year.

Advice: Cymro (8/1 each-way)

            Noble Gift (20/1 each-way – Stan James)


15:45 Ayr –William Hill Gold Cup

As talked about for the Silver Cup the draw has played a part in recent years with stalls 8, 12 and 19 (twice last two years.) It’s probably not as obvious here with many of the placed horses coming from low draws too making this a more difficult contest to decipher.

Don’t Touch is the obvious place to start after he won the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon after staying on strongly to take the victory late in the day. He’s clearly a three-year-old sprinter that is going places and as mentioned in the Silver Cup piece that Richard Fahey’s string are in good form. The trainer didn’t think he handled the Ripon track that day and it was ability that got him through it. In his sportinglife.com blog Fahey is quite sweet on his chances thinking he has the talent to win a race of this nature. On this more conventional course he should be at home and is one to watch swooping late on under Tony Hamilton.

The first one I’m putting forward is the 2013 Silver Cup winner Highland Colori. For this race he is drawn well in stall 19, which has a good recent record for hitting the frame, but he is a pick for the way he won the race that year in stylish fashion. He won that day off 104 and races off a 1lb lower mark here. In more recent times Andrew Balding has been campaigning him over further and dropped him back to this trip at Ascot where he weakened to finish eight of 17. He has a good record here after finishing second in the Silver Cup in 2012 plus he has a fair record at this time of year. He may want the ground a touch on the softer side but should give his running at a nice price.

Blaine was third in this last year when the beaten favourite. This year he has had excuses for some of his runs and that has seen his mark tumble to 98, which should see him get competitive. The blinkers come back on after being taken off for his last start at York when never striking a blow. Kevin Ryan has an excellent record in this race winning three of the last eight renewals. Following Blaine’s run at York he’s been off the track (56 days), which suggests this has been the seasonal target, so you’d expect him to figure plus he’s got a high draw. Heavens Guest has finished fourth in this race for the last two years but he races here off a higher mark, which may see him out of the frame. Jack Garritty is more than useful for his 3lb claim, which could benefit this five-year-old, who has been racing for the majority of the season over 7f.

Rene Mathis has done well to win two competitive 7f handicaps this season. He won his latest at Goodwood and carries a 5lb penalty. He isn’t ground dependent having won those on soft and good to firm respectively. His last few efforts at this trip have been disappointing. They are likely to try and take him to the front or prominently, which could be a telling factor for him. Rivellino was on the shortlist but the form of Karl Burke’s runner is slightly off putting. He did have a comprehensive winner in Quiet Reflection yesterday but you’d be wanting to see a bit more form from his runners as a whole. This son of Invincible Spirit won a Listed race at Lingfield in February and his five career wins have all come at all-weather tracks meaning he has something to prove on turf. He ran well when last seen at Goodwood to finish third to Magical Memory. He has place claims but as stated his turf record leaves a considerable question mark.

Roger Varian’s Toofi is well fancied in some quarters and with the fitting of the first time visor he could be one to find a bit more here. He remains on the same mark as his second to Hoof It at Doncaster when finishing strongly, so if Adam Kirby rides him more positively then he is one that has to figure in a finish. His only race win came in September 2013 at Newmarket when staying on to see off Jallota. You’d be hoping to see him kept in midfield before running on strongly. A track like this should also benefit him and if running up to his Doncaster second or second to Magical Memory at Goodwood then he’s hard to ignore. Majestic Moon won at Ascot to get him into this race and under the 5lb he isn’t one for me even with Silvestre de Sousa on board. He slightly interfered with Suzi’s Connoisseur at Ascot over the 7f and didn’t look like he’d have too much more to offer from a higher mark. The drop to 6f is interesting however he was well-beaten in last year’s Silver Cup.

The other focus of my attention is Golden Steps. Marco Botti’s four-year-old is lightly raced compared to the majority of these having only had four starts this campaign. He was a decisive winner of the Consolation Race for the Stewards Cup at Goodwood when last seen 49 days ago and that form was given a huge boost yesterday when Go Far, who finished third, won the Bronze Cup. On top of that Rex Imperator and Hoof It have won since with others going close. He could have more to offer in this sort of race and can overcome the 7lb rise in the weights. Drawn in stall ten wouldn’t be a worry and has previously raced on good ground when running creditably.

Advice: Golden Steps (14/1 each-way)

            Highland Colori (22/1 each-way)

Note: William Hill sponsors this race and from 08:30 they are going 10/1 Don’t Touch


Good Luck!

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