Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ayr and Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.
JACK DEXTER (3.45) can bring the house down by landing the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup for local trainer Jim Goldie. The Scots have been rampant on home soil this week and Jack Dexter runs the track well. He landed the 2012 Bronze Cup with ridiculous ease and almost scooped the big one 12 months later, finishing third to Highland Colari under a huge weight. Jack was drawn on the wrong side last year but wasn’t beaten far in eighth. His mark of 108 here is 2lb lower than his third-placed effort two years ago and although a few showers would be welcomed by connections, there should be no jar.
The ground was officially good when Jack ran Pearl Secret to a diminishing neck in the Temple Stakes at Haydock in May, with classy types Danzino, Hot Streak, Goldream and G Force in arrears, so he does not necessarily need it soft. If the track does dry out quickly, Rivellino might be the one to take full advantage. Karl Burke’s gelding needs quickish ground and has run some of his best races in these large-field sprints. Rivellino, third to Baccarat in the 2014 Wokingham at Royal Ascot, finished in front of Jack Dexter in this summer’s Qatar Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood, running third to favourite Magical Memory. Toofi (2nd) and Dinkum Diamond (4th) re-oppose but Rivellino had by far the worst of the draw that day. Goodwood would never play to Jack Dexter’s strengths and he is taken to reverse the placings back on his own patch, with a saver recommended on Rivellino.
EVANESCENT (4.55) and TRENDSETTER (5.30) represent John Quinn and both make each-way appeal in very open-looking handicaps. Evanescent is a real seven-furlong specialist and always acquits himself well at this meeting. In 2013, he thumped Circuitous by six lengths and last year found only Our Boy Jack too good. The six-year-old finished on the heels of Steel Train when they filled the placings behind Comino at Thirsk in August but Evanescent was drawn very wide that day (14) and did well to manoeuvre his way into the race. Megan Nicholls takes off 7lb and stall five is a handy box.
Quinn likes to target the concluding 1m 5f handicap and his easy 2013 winner, Forced Family Fun, is back for another crack. He looked all over the winner at York last month until Ronald Gee swept past at the furlong pole and the pair lock horns again. However, it may be prudent to concentrate on the outcome of the Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell at Hamilton to find the winner. The race was won by Mark Johnston’s useful Polarisation with Innocent Touch (3rd), Trendsetter (4th), Esteaming (5th) and Dark Ruler (6th) all turning up here. Trendsetter travelled strongly that day before finding the Hamilton hill sapping his strength and wins a narrow vote. The race could hardly have worked out better, with runner-up Nakeeta landing the Class 2 Betfred Old Borough Cup at Haydock.
At Newbury, it is difficult to split TOP TUG (2.50) and Laurence in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap. The expectation of easy ground sways me in favour of Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old. The 1m 4f trip may have overstretched his stamina reserves when third to Memorial Day and Libran at York last time, so this 10f test should be perfect. Top Tug had earlier finished a closing fifth to Mount Logan at Goodwood, encountering all sorts of trouble in running, and a repeat performance may be good enough. Given Luca Cumani’s woes this week, victory for Laurence would prove hugely popular. Cumani’s three-year-old looked a very smart tool at Beverley and his handler has an impressive record in the race, with three wins from the last eight renewals. The worry is that soft ground will blunt his speed.
Last year’s Cesarewitch hero BIG EASY (3.50) re-appears in the Betfred Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket. Runner-up in this prep race 12 months ago, beaten a neck, Big Easy has edged up the ratings and Philip Hobbs’ popular dual-purpose gelding is opposed by two Tony Martin Irish raiders in Cassells Rock and Encrypted Message. However, Big Easy still sets the standard in an interesting contest.
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