Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ayr and Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.
ALBEN STAR (3.50) can be rewarded for some sterling efforts this summer by scooping the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup. Richard Fahey’s six-year-old is out to emulate the stable’s 2006 winner Fonthill Road and he boasts solid credentials, including a third place in the 32Red Stewards’ Cup and fourth spot in the Wokingham. Factor in another fine effort when chasing home Tropics in a Listed sprint at Newmarket and Alben Star’s prospects are obvious under 5lb claimer Jack Garritty. Stall seven on the far side of the track may not be ideal, but ante-post favourite Watchable is boxed in five and it may be folly to be too dogmatic about the effect of the draw. Kevin Ryan has taken three Ayr Gold Cup scalps and Blaine, the mount of daughter Amy, is positioned near the stands’ rail in stall 26. Blaine has been in rattling good form and arrives in Scotland on the back of a Class 2 victory at York. David Nicholls’ incredible haul of six victories ensure his runners carry maximum respect and he has snapped up apprentice sensation Cam Hardie to steer speedy Barnet Fair from stall 17. Jack Dexter was third last September for local handler Jim Goldie but the prevailing fast ground will better suit venerable stablemate Hawkeyethenoo.
HUNTSMANS CLOSE (2.40) should give his backers a good run for their money in the consolation William Hill Silver Cup. James Doyle takes the ride on Roger Charlton’s four-year-old from stall 27, bang up against the stands’ rail. There is always the danger of bunching if the field attempt to congregate on a perceived faster strip of ground but Huntsmans Close’s close third to Badr Al Badoor at Doncaster last Friday was another cracking run.
The William Hill Doonside Cup always attracts some classy individuals and GABRIAL (3.15) could be another course winner for the Fahey team. The experiment of running Gabrial over longer trips this summer back-fired but we should see a different horse now returned to 10 furlongs on decent ground.
John Quinn has been in terrific form at Ayr this week and FORCED FAMILY FUN (5.35) bids to emulate stablemate Cockney Sparrow in 2013 by lifting the concluding 1m 5f handicap. Forced Family Fun scored by five lengths over course and distance last October on a deep surface and, hopefully, there will be just enough ease underfoot for Quinn to give him the go-ahead.
Oisin Murphy burst on to the UK scene 12 months ago with an Ayr four-timer, including Gold Cup winner Highland Colori, but he is on duty at Newbury. The pick of his mounts could be AIR PILOT (2.55) in the 1m 2f Dubai Duty Free Handicap. Ray Beckett’s five-year-old hasn’t run since splitting the very smart Farraaj and Clon Brulee at Epsom on Derby day but looks well treated near the foot of the weights.
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