Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action at Ayr.
The Ayr Western Meeting continues with eight races this afternoon and several are tricky to solve handicaps.
The feature Ayr Bronze Cup is no exception with 25 runners set to go to post and plenty of these can be fancied. It’s the sort of race to have a couple running for you and preferably one from each side of the track to insure against any draw /pace bias. David Evans’ SIR BILLY WRIGHT is drawn highest of all and the five-year-old can be forgiven a rare below-par run at Chester last time as he was drawn in the car park and missed the break. Since winning at Chepstow in May he’s found the frame six times, including a third to Ayr Gold Cup favourite Growl at Windsor despite not getting a clear run, and he has plenty of form on ground with cut in it. The booking of promising 7lb claimer Clifford Lee seals the deal and odds of 20/1 (and five places) are the icing on the cake.
Michael Dods’ FENDALE will come out of stall seven and the four-year-old could be ready to take advantage of a slipped handicap mark. A smart juvenile who won his first two starts and was considered good enough to run in the Group 2 Gimcrack, he’s yet to trouble the judge in five starts this term. However, he’s been scuppered by the draw the last twice, doing best of those in low stalls when finishing fifth (of 20), at Ripon on his penultimate start and then having no chance when racing on the stands’ side at Doncaster, well away from the main action up the middle of the track. Assuming he’s not drawn out of it again today, he could well outrun his 20/1 price tag and nick a place at least.
The rest of the handicaps aren’t much easier and the 5f race is practically a pin job. That said, I might have found one at a price with Michael Dods’ RICHTER SCALE surely capable of much better than she’s shown in a couple of runs this season, one of which was on unsuitably fast ground and the other on the Tapeta at Newcastle. Granted her maiden success last May came on good to firm, but Dods has said (I’m using a recent Stable Tour as a source) she’ll do better when we get a bit of cut in the ground and that she’ll win again. That may well be today as she looks well treated too on a mark of 72 having started life in handicaps off 84 and gets weight from all bar one of her rivals. UPDATE – THE SELECTION HAS BEEN DECLARED A NON-RUNNER.
Dods introduces a potentially smart juvenile in the opening 7f maiden in the shape of HELM REEF. She sustained a cut on her leg earlier in the season, hence the belated debut, but has reportedly been doing well since and has an entry in next month’s Listed Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar. Those that have already run don’t look anything out of the ordinary, so she may well be able to make her mark. Some market support would increase confidence further.
Keith Dalgleish targets this meeting and he was the subject of a timely Stable Tour this week, in which he is talking up the chances of his CLEM FANDANGO, who contests this afternoon’s 5f Listed Harry Roseberry Stakes rather than Saturday’s Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes. It’s hardly an easy alternative as she faces ten rivals most of whom boast winning form. However, her form is right up there and she’s hardly put a foot wrong since winning her Catterick maiden on good to soft back in May, finishing second in the Hilary Needler, third in the Queen Mary behind Lady Aurelia and third again in the 23-runner Super Sprint.
It didn’t happen for her in the Group 2 Lowther last time on ground faster than ideal, but she has been freshened up for this since and has “been working great” at home according to her in-form handler, who welcomed the recent rain as she likes to get her toe in. She wouldn’t have to improve much (of at all) to land this based on the ratings and the top-rated runner, Private Matter, is opposable given he looked ready for further when winning over 6f last time. I rate her today’s best bet.
Ayr 1.30, Helm Reef each-way @ 12/1 bet365
Ayr 3.05, Richter Scale each-way @ 33/1 Betfair – NON-RUNNER
Ayr 3.40, Clem Fandango @ 7/2 bet365
Ayr 4.15, Sir Billy Wright each-way @ 20/1 Hills / Fendale each-way @ 20/1 Hills (1/4 odds, 220.127.116.11.5)