THE showpiece race of Ayr’s autumn three day festival is the Ayr Gold Cup, one of the most prestigious sprint handicap races of the flat season with a first prize of £74,000, and it invariably attracts some of the best speedsters in the country.
Trainer Dandy Nicholls usually arrives in Scotland mob handed and had five runners last year, including the winner, Redford. This year he has chances with Regal Parade, Tajneed and Evens and Odds, but I’m going to look elsewhere.
Jim Goldie’s Hawkeyethenoo is a tough, consistent sort who finished down the field last year, but has been in good form this year, winning the Victoria Cup at Ascot. Pepper Lane has been a talisman for trainer David O’ Meara and completed a hatrick when winning The Great St Wilfred at Thirsk, but has gone up 22lb since the start of his winning sequence. Eton Rifles was impressive when landing a massive gamble under the incomparable K Fallon in the second leg of the Betfair Summer Double.
However, the leading prospect here may be MACS POWER, for the James Fanshawe stable. He has been running well in good quality handicaps this season, and seems to thrive on good ground. He didn’t seem to enjoy soft ground in a listed race at Newmarket, but before that ran well behind subsequent narrow Sprint Cup third Hoof It. He is yet to get that slice of luck that is often needed in these big sprint races, and off a decent weight, with the ground possibly in his favour, I am expecting another big win for the successful Fanshawe and Cosgrave partnership.
Aside from Ayr there is an excellent card at Newbury, including the Arc Trial, won last year by the subsequent Breeders Cup Turf winner Dangerous Midge. This tough colt looks to defend his crown, after winning this race in impressive style last year against a good field, including Group One winners Rainbow Peak and Campanologist. His last run was at Meydan in the Sheema Classic where he appeared not to handle the surface and finished last. From his runs last year he sets a good standard, Green Destiny steps up in trip and it is unknown whether he will stay.
Caspar Netcher is a juvenile who has gradually been stepped up in class after a maiden win and a second in a conditions race. From there, he finished second, third and fourth in listed races, including a third to Frederick Engels in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. A third in a Group 3 race behind current ante post 2000 Guineas favourite Harbour Watch was then topped by a Group 2 win last time out in the Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) at York. The form was franked from Burwaaz who finished second next time out, and Reply winning the big sales race last weekend for Ballydoyle. As a final plus, that man Fallon is booked.
2.30 (Newbury) Caspar Netcher (Nap)
2.00 (Newbury) Dangerous Midge
3.20 (Ayr) Macs Power (Ew)