Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on Gold Cup day at Ayr on Saturday. View selections below.
BRANDO (3.45) will need to be at the top of his game to defy a hefty 9st 10lb burden but this classy type should go close to giving Kevin Ryan his fourth William Hill Ayr Gold Cup scalp.
The four-year-old has produced some splendid efforts through high summer. Brando won the Coral Charge at Sandown and was nailed on the line by Outback Traveller after looking the likely winner of the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot when hitting the front over a furlong out.
There was no disgrace in finishing behind Mecca’s Angel at the Curragh and Brando was taken off his feet by the same horse in the Nunthorpe at York.
Back in handicap company on softer ground it is easy to envisage Brando holding a prominent position on the middle to far side, with stall eight a good-looking draw. He has plenty of fancied horses around him including Growl (six), Hoof It (seven), Jack Dexter (five), Nameitwhatyoulike (four) and Kimberella (ten).
It won’t be easy conceding weight to so many talented sprinters but Jack Dexter had the steadier of 9st 10lb when third in 2013 and Coastal Bluff carried the same burden when landing a monster gamble (3-1 fav) back in 1996.
Richard Fahey trained last year’s winning favourite Don’t Touch and again saddles likely market leader Growl, his sole contender with a massive chance.
Fahey sends out two contenders in the 1m 2f handicap and INNOCENT TOUCH (4.20) runs the track so well he may be capable of defying top weight. The five-year-old is 9lb higher than when defeating Buonarroti here in July but showed he is holding his form well by beating Sennockian Star at Epsom 19 days ago.
Stablemate Imshivalla is capable of going close along with fellow Yorkshire rivals Felix de Vega and Snoano, while Pat Smullen is an eyecatching booking to ride Godolphin’s Flight Officer.
The William Hill Silver Cup should throw up some valuable clues to the effect of the draw. GET KNOTTED (2.35) comes out of stall nine and Michael Dods has his west coast raiding party in great nick. Get Knotted is a quirky customer and almost certainly hit the front too soon at Doncaster last week when third to Normandy Barriere. He hung left under pressure but possesses the talent to take a hand under more restraint. His earlier third to Certificate at Donny is solid form.
The one-mile handicap is another wide-open minefield and the best policy at Ayr this week has been to follow the money before the ‘off’ as some significant late gambles have been landed.
GARCIA (3.10) may have been laid out for this prize as he hasn’t been spotted since disappointing in the Britannia at Royal Ascot in June.
The three-year-old left the impression he was a smart prospect when landing the Haydock Silver Bowl on soft ground back in May and his first-time-out success over Arab Poet at Beverley in April was a grand effort. Garcia remains relatively unexposed after only five runs under his belt and Adam McNamara reduces his burden by 5lb.
Roger Varian’s Morando is another lightly-raced three-year-old and is chasing a hat-trick. He is up 10lb for winning a Chester maiden which appears a bit steep.
The more battle-hardened One Word More didn’t fare badly in a decent contest at Doncaster last week and should get a decent pace to attack.
HARDSTONE (5.30) was a 50-1 winner of the concluding 1m 5f handicap 12 months ago and could well follow up at shorter odds this time round.
Third horse that day was Trendsetter and he again turns up for the gig, but this time John Quinn’s gelding is 11lb worse off with Hardstone on that run. More recently Trendsetter had Hardstone back in fourth when scoring over 1m 6f at Carlisle and there is little between them on revised terms. Hardstone may have hit the front a tad early that day and Dodds will have him primed for an action replay.
Adrian Keatley and Chris Hayes team up with Captain Carleton and it goes without saying that money talks in this Irish yard when pitching up at their happy hunting ground Ayr.
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