The ITV racing team is bringing viewers action from Newbury and Ayr this weekend. There are three competitive looking Group races at Newbury and the Ayr Gold Cup is the feature race at the Scottish track.
The Group 3 Legacy Cup Stakes is the first group race at Newbury and the betting would suggest that the race is at the mercy of the Sir Michael Stoute trained Mirage Dancer. The son of Frankel has had a reasonably busy campaign but a successful one, with a listed win at Goodwood in May and a runaway success in a Group 3 back at Goodwood last month. If he reproduces those Goodwood runs then another victory lies in wait.
David Simcock’s Desert Encounter bagged his first victory of the season in a listed race at Windsor in August and although he’s been beaten some big distances this year they have all been behind Poet’s Word in stronger races including the Price of Wales’s Stakes. There is no horse of the same calibre as Poet’s Word here and with a recent confidence-boosting win behind him, then a big run looks on the cards.
William Haggas is responsible for the most interesting horse in the field with his runner Young Rascal. The very lightly raced son of Intello has only graced the racecourse on four occasions. He won the Group 3 Chester Vase on just his third start beating Dee Ex Bee and then went with high hopes to the Epsom Derby where he ultimately finished a disappointing seventh behind Masar. He hasn’t been seen since but I think that we haven’t seen the best of Young Rascal yet and he may be the surprise package.
The other lightly raced horse in the field is Extra Exclusive who has won three of his four career starts to date. He hasn’t contested any high profile races but he did put a smart looking field to the sword when winning a Newbury maiden on debut last season. Roger Charlton is a maestro at nurturing young talent and a patient manner and this horse is clearly progression nicely and has untapped potential.
Selection: Young Rascal
The Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes is the highlight at Newbury on Saturday and this 6 furlongs contents for two-year-olds has been won by some very speedy sorts in the past, chief among them being Dark Angel (2007) and his son Harry Angel (2016). It’s a race that will let trainers know what distance they will be aiming their charge at next season.
Shine So Bright looks likely to go off favourite for this year’s renewal and although the son of Oasis Dream has only won a maiden form four starts that doesn’t tell the full story. He was purchased by current connections following a fantastic run when finishing fifth behind Calyx in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Since this acquisition, he’s finished third in a brace of Group Two’s at Goodwood and York. A reproduction of that form should see him go very close.
John Gosden runs Kessaar in this and the son of Kodiac was a taking winner of a Group 3 at Kempton earlier this month and with this recent improvement in form perhaps Kessaar can sneak into the places.
Karl Burke’s team is currently on fire and are coming here on the back of a dual Group 1 winning weekend. He runs True Mason in this race and he possibly has the best form on offer having finished third in the Group 1 Prix Morny behind Pretty Pollyanna when last seen. If she continues to progress then there is no reason she can’t win this Group 2 contest.
Aidan O’Brien’s, The Irish Rover makes a quick reappearance here having finished fifth in a valuable sales race at Doncaster last week. I think Ryan Moore hit the front too early that day and The Irish Rover curled up underneath him inside the final furlong. If Ryan employes more waiting tactics this time around then I think he can coax out the ability he has already shown when finished third in the Phoneix Stakes at the Curragh.
Others to consider include the very lightly raced and progressive Garrus, the consistent Marie’s Diamond and the Gerald Mosse ridden Konchek.
Selection: The Irish Rover
The Group 3 Trophy Stakes is the sprint race for the older horses at Newbury and a lot of the runners are turning out quickly having run at the Irish Champions weekend. Sioux Nation, Hit The Bid and Take Cover all re-oppose having finished third, fourth and fifth respectively in the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes last Sunday.
There is unlikely to be much between them again here and Sioux Nation seems to be finding his form again with good runs on his last two starts in Group 1 contests. He should uphold his form over his rivals although if the ground stays good, then the evergreen Take Cover will push him all the way to the line.
The lightly raced Equilateral looks set to leave the stalls as the race favourite having impressively landed a conditions event. Charlie Hills’s three-year-old has put his toe into group company on two occasions and was beaten over six lengths on both starts. I think that he will come up short here again especially against more seasoned sprinters.
Others to note include the well-bred Judicial, the smart handicapper El Astronaute and the Richard Fahey trained Mr Lupton.
Selection: Sioux Nation
The Ayr Silver Cup is the consolation race to the Gold Cup itself and is no less competitive. Quick Look heads the market for Mick Easterby having won his last two starts which included the Silver Trophy at Ripon. The distance and ground will hold no fears for the son of Kheleyf but perhaps the handicapper has his measure.
Hayadh is starting to look like a well-handicapped horse, he once looked very smart when trained by John Gosden by was off the track for nearly three years until this season. He won on stable debut and showed he’s holding his form well with a big run over an extended seven furlongs last time out. This will be his first run over six furlongs but having raced freely on his last run, the drop down in trip and softer under-foot conditions may well hold the key to him.
It may sound mad but the veteran Maarek has to have a small chance here. The admirable former Group 1 winner has been kept for an autumn campaign and although he finished 21st at the Curragh last Sunday, he wasn’t beaten very far after missing the break. Evanna McCutcheon’s stable star relishes heavy ground and the race outsider may surprise a few in the Silver Cup.
The Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes is the final race before the feature at the Scottish track and it’s for the two-year-old fillies, which means it will be hotly contested as they fight for black type. It looks like a very open contest with the second top-rated in the race Queen of Bermuda one of the leading fancies to land this. William Haggas trains this daughter of Exceed and Excel who’s last two starts have been in France where she won a listed race and was narrowly beaten by Soldiers Call in a Group 3 contest.
The highest rated filly in the field is the Archie Watson trained Shumookhi who has had seven runs in a busy juvenile campaign. She too has suffered defeat at the hands of Soldiers Call this season and on a tenuous line through that from Queen of Bermuda should be slightly better than Shunookhi.
Kevin Ryan’s team are beginning to hit form and he has a good record at the track and he may just have the potential winner with Glass Slippers. She ran a huge race on debut at Haydock when finishing third behind Angels Hideaway at Haydock. She has won two of her three starts this season and the last of these a shade cosily. She is on an upward curve and is my idea of the winner.
Others with chances include Queen Jo Jo, Firelight and Second Generation.
Selection: Glass Slippers
The Ayr Gold Cup is the feature race on Saturday and this six-furlong handicap worth £250,000 is one of the toughest races of the season. Kevin Ryan has won three of the last seven runnings of this race with Our Jonathan (2011), Captain Ramius (2012) and Brando (2016).
Ryan is quadruply represented this year with Major Jumbo, Teruntum Star, Tommy Taylor and Naadirr. All of them have chances but of his runners, I’ll plump for Tommy Taylor who was a listed winner last season over six furlongs off a mark of 100 and he runs here of 97 having shown he remains in good form when finished third in an Ascot handicap.
The ante-post gamble has been the Fozzy Stack trained Irish-raider Son of Rest and understandably son considering he finished second in the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes last weekend behind Havana Grey. The son of Pivotal seems to run better in the Autumn time and is ten pounds well in here on the back of that promising run in that Group 1. If this race doesn’t come too soon then Son of Rest must have a great chance.
Dr Marwan Koukash has his eyes firmly set on landing a big handicap this year with Magic Circle heading down under for the race that stops the nation but he also has a big chance of winning the Ayr Gold Cup with Growl who has yet to win this season but has run very well all year and may just be able to get his head in front.
Another trainer that is multiply represented is Tim Easterby, with Golden Apollo, Flying Pursuit and Staxton. Of his three runners, Golden Apollo may hold the best chance of success, he’s been beaten by stablemate Flying Pursuit already this season but I think he can turn things around and emerge on top this time.
The other horse making the trip across the Irish Sea is the Adrian Keatley trained G Force, who has been laid out for the race by his shrewd handler. The seven-year-old was fourth behind Brando in this race two years ago off a one pound higher mark. He normally wons well fresh and must have an outside chance of glory, with Clifford Lee on board.
Selection: Tommy Taylor