Our resident tipster likes a couple against the field in Saturday's Ayr Gold Cup.
It’s Europe’s richest sprint handicap with a first prize of £112,050, so you can be certain that each of the 25 runners in Saturday’s Ayr Gold Cup will have been primed to run for their lives.
That makes finding the winner all the more difficult – getting the excuses in early – but help is at hand with the draw being a major factor. Just taking the results from the last four years, during which the track has staged a dozen sprints featuring 18 or more runners, and it’s clear you need to be drawn high, with the winners emerging from 18, 27, 27, 14, 26, 18, 27, 27, 17, 10, 8 and 20. That sole success for a horse drawn in single figures is even worse when you consider there have been 99 representatives.
So, I’m hardly rushing to back the current favourite Don’t Touch after his name was one of the last to be drawn out of the hat, with his trainer Richard Fahey electing for stall eight. That’s not to say he can’t win of course and the three-year-old arrives here unbeaten after four stars, with quite possibly more to come. But that draw is off-putting for a bet at single figure odds and he’d also be the first winning favourite since Coastal Bluff in 1996.
On the other hand, Charlie Hills’ TANZEEL has been handed what could be a plum draw in stall 25 and with the ground coming right for him, he’s my main pick at the 14/1 on offer. He’s a bigger price on account of a below par run at York last time, but you can draw a line through that on account of the soft ground – his trainer has said as much since – and he’s better judged on an impressive win at the same track in July over a faster terrain.
He’s now on a mark of 104, but given he’s lightly-raced with just eight runs under his belt, three this season, there’s every chance he can go on improving and his burden of 9st 6lb is not the stopper it may appear, with a couple of winners in the last ten years carrying more. He’s potentially Listed class or better and his trainer, who continues in red-hot form and has proved a dab hand with sprinters this season (Muharaar, Magical Memory, Cotai Glory etc), reckons he has a “great chance”, on the proviso the ground isn’t soft (likely to dry out to good by racetime if the forecast is correct) and he is drawn high (bingo!).
I’m not short of confidence in the selection, but there’s no harm in having a couple of horses fighting your cause in these sort of races and I’ve no hesitation in putting up Roger Varian’s TOOFI as the other one to back. He too is a lightly-raced four-year-old with some progressive form in the book, and he can be forgiven his latest defeat at Doncaster – a one and a half length second to Hoof It – on account of a slow start and then not having a fast enough pace to run at.
He can’t afford to fluff the start here but last week’s miss was uncharacteristic and they won’t be hanging around this time either. With last week’s conqueror carrying a penalty, he can get his revenge on that horse and it’s worth noting his shrewd trainer won last Saturday’s Portland with Steps, who like his stablemate was being turned out again quickly and was wearing a visor for the first time. On the downside, he will exit from stall five, but I’ve been wrong about the draw before and odds of 20/1 are big enough to compensate.