Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action at Ayr.
I’m hopeful that Ralph Beckett’s GUILDHALL can get favourite backers off to a good start in the opening 7f novice stakes after his promising third in a Sandown maiden (good to soft) on his debut. He might have finished closer still but for being hampered by the runner-up in the closing stages and this half-brother to four winners, including Redstart, a juvenile winner over this trip, is going to come on plenty for the experience. Harry Bentley, who has ridden 28 winners for the stable in 2018 at a healthy strike rate of 18%, retains the partnership.
Beckett and Bentley also team up with JUNIUS BRUTUS in the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes over 5f and the son of 2000 Guineas winner Cockney Rebel should go close, despite dropping back to the minimum after two good runs over 6f. While he’s bred to get further, he’s certainly not short of speed, as he showed when scoring decisively in a Ripon conditions stakes run on a rain-softened surface two starts back. Some juice in the ground is clearly important to him and he could be even better back at 5f, with his two wins in France earlier this year coming over that trip (one on ‘very soft’).
Keith Dalgleish targets this meeting and struck with Saint Equiano on Thursday, so I’ve no hesitation in making his TAXMEIFYOUCAN, a six-times winner (four on the Flat, twice over hurdles, my nap of the day in the 2m1f handicap. At first glance, the four-year-old looks up against on his belated seasonal reappearance against five race-fit rivals. However, his trainer is sure to have him primed for this and, indeed, he reports him to looking great for his break and in “very good order”. As a real mudlark, he’s going to be in his element in today’s conditions and, given his revised hurdles rating of 135, there is probably still some mileage in his Flat mark of 88.
The Bronze Cup over 6f looks a real puzzle but I’m again turning to Dalgleish as both his runners, Dark Defender and SOLDIER’S MINUTE, look to have solid claims. I’m just favouring the latter horse as he is potentially better handicapped on a mark of 83, with the handicapper leaving him unchanged after his close second at York (6f, good to soft) earlier this month. That was easily his best effort in seven outings in 2018, having dropped a stone since his reappearance in May, and he must go close to winning if running to a similar level of form here.
Stablemate Dark Defender is worth at least a saver at the odds (suggest you split stakes) as while he has a 5lb penalty to carry for winning at Hamilton last time, he’s still only 1lb higher than winning over track and trip last July, with talented claimer Rowan Scott taking a handy 3lb off his back, and he too likes some cut in the ground.
They can’t all win of course, but Dalgleish has chances elsewhere on the card with his HOWZER BLACK and MISS BAR BEACH well worth considering in the 6f nursery and 5f fillies’ sprint respectively. The latter in particular has a “big shout” according to the trainer in a timely Stable Tour this week.
Ayr 1.50, Guildhall @ 13/8 BetVictor
Ayr 2.30, Howzer Black @ 11/1 BetVictor
Ayr 3.05, Junius Brutus @ 5/1 Ladbrokes
Ayr 3.35, Miss Bar Beach @ 9/1 bet365
Ayr 4.10, Soldier’s Minute @ 20/1 bet365 / Dark Defender @ 20/1 bet365
Ayr 4.45, Taxmeifyoucan (nap) @ 11/4 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.