Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 08:26 03/09/2014
Horseracing at Ayr dates back to 1576 although the first official meeting did not take place until 1771 at a racecourse situated in the Seafield area of the town. In 1824 Ayr’s most important Flat meeting, the Western Meeting, was established with it’s feature race The Ayr Gold Cup run as a handicap since 1855 and now boasts the title of the richest handicap sprint in Europe. The course was moved to it’s current location in the Craigie area in 1907 with the layout based on that of Newbury although the straight course is only six furlongs rather than a mile.
The first day of the three-day meeting offers quite moderate racing with the feature race in 2013, the William Hill – Download The App Handicap (For The Kilkerran Cup), worth less than £16k to the winner and on this occasion won by the Richard Fahey-trained Hi There who just got the better of Beaumont’s Party by a nose. Friday’s card was a little stronger with the £34k Listed Harry Roseberry Stakes producing a competitive field of 9 for this two-year-old contest which went to Irish Challenger Hurryupharriet.
As usual, the feature race at the meeting the Ayr Gold Cup, was well over subscribed resulting in two consolation events, the Silver Cup and Bronze Cup, the latter being part of Friday’s card and won by the 74-rated Circuitous who made all on the stand side to beat Green Howard by a diminishing head. Sponsor William Hill offers a £50 free bet to new curtomers registering ahead of this year's meeting.
Saturday saw a mammoth eight-race card which was high on both quality and quantity. The William Hill Ayr Silver Cup and William Hill Ayr Gold Cup produced fields of 27 and 26 respectively while the Listed 1m 2f Doonside Cup, despite on 7 runners resulted in an exciting finish in which the Godolphin runner Sharestan proved a neck too good for Jamie Spencer’s mount Willie The Whipper. The only Group race of the meeting was the William Hill – In The App Store Firth Of Clyde Stakes (Fillies Group 3) a six furlong contest for two-year-olds in which the first eight home were covered by only three lengths. The Charlie Hills-trained Coral Mist got the verdict by the minimum margin from Hoku and Ventura Mist with the 9-4 favourite Valonia close up in fourth. The Mick Easterby-trained Ancient Cross ran out a shock 33-1 winner of the Silver Cup while the Gold Cup went the way of the apprentice find of the season Oisin Murphy aboard 20-1 chance Highland Colori, the first leg of the jockey’s 9260-1 four-timer.
PREVIEW OF 2014 WILLIAM HILL AYR GOLD CUP
Another massive entry for Europe’s richest sprint handicap worth £99,600 to the winner with 236 horses entered for the 6f test of speed. With the top 36 entries handicapped on 9st or more and a maximum field of 27 permitted it is unlikely that anything weighted below 8st 11lb or 8st 12lb stand much of a chance of making the cut, a more realistic target for those further down the handicap being the consolation Silver Cup. Currently heading the weights on 9st 10 are two classy potential runners in Heeraat and Jack Dexter (third 12 months ago off the same mark of 110) while a 1lb lower are recent York Listed winner Absolutely So and Alben Star who finished a close third in Goodwood’s Stewards Cup prior to running July Cup runner-up Tropics close on his most recent start. Last year’s winner Highland Colori is a general 20-1 chance to win back-to-back renewals and will be racing off a 1lb lower mark if taking his chance. At present bookmakers are finding it hard to find a clear ante-post favourite with at least 9 horses priced at 16-1 but the one horse who catches the eye at this early stage is the Michael Dods-trained MASS RALLY who is as short as 14-1 with several firms but a standout 20-1 with Ladbrokes. Winner of the Silver Cup in 2012 (beating Highland Colori) the seven-year-old was noted finishing strongly at York’s Ebor meeting after getting no sort of run and granted some give in the ground at the Scottish venue could easily go off favourite off a 2lb lower mark than when a close fourth in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes back in May.