Next up on the late season conveyor belt of major handicap contests is the highlight of the flat campaign at the Scottish track of Ayr. As is almost always the case, the final list of runners and riders has resulted in a maximum field of 25 for this year’s Ayr Gold Cup, as a field of talented sprinting handicappers do battle over the 6f trip.
David O’Meara claimed the prize for a second time when saddling Summerghand to victory in 2022, and counts the admirable nine-year-old amongst his trio of entries this time around. Also triple-handed is five-time winner of the race, Kevin Ryan, who has the 2021 champ Bielsa amongst his team.
Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup: Confirmed Field of Runners and Riders
- 1. Summerghand – Trainer: David O’Meara, Jockey: Daniel Tudhope – 2022 winner, 5lbs higher this time around but running consistently well all season.
- 2. Rohaan – Trainer: David Evans, Jockey: Ben Curtis – Winner of the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at around this time last year. Below par so far this season, but now 7lbs lower than career career-high handicap winning mark.
- 3. Fast Response – Trainer: Karl Burke, Jockey: Brandon Wilkie – Second three times at Listed level in 2023, now drops into handicap company for the first time in almost a year but has a near career-high mark to overcome.
- 4. Northern Express – Trainer: Michael Dods, Jockey: Paul Mulrennan – First and second in two previous visits to Ayr, but those came over 7f and 1m. Mark reasonable, if handling this first crack at a sprint trip.
- 5. Desert Cop – Trainer: Andrew Balding, Jockey: P J McDonald – One of only two three-year-olds in the field. Flopped in only previous handicap start, but sixth in Group 1 Commonwealth Cup gives hope.
- 6. Montassib – Trainer: William Haggas, Jockey: Cieren Fallon – 3lbs higher than when landing 7f event at Newmarket in May. Decent effort last time out at Ascot but drops to 6f for the first time since 2020.
- 7. Orazio – Trainer: Charles Hills, Jockey: Jim Crowley – Heavy ground against him in the Stewards Cup, but still lightly raced and claimed back-to-back big handicap successes at Newmarket and Ascot earlier in the season. May need improvement to defy a mark of 101, but that is not impossible.
- 8. Gweedore – Trainer: Katie Scott, Jockey: William Pyle – Ayr specialist with five course wins to his name, but all at 7f+. 43rd career start, but his first at 6f.
- 9. Aberama Gold – Trainer: David O’Meara, Jockey: Mark Winn – Dual course and distance winner who has shot up the handicap on the back of wins in the Sky Bet Dash and Stewards Cup. Struggled off this mark since, but the conditions are fine.
- 10. Escobar – Trainer: David O’Meara, Jockey: David Allan – Likeable nine-year-old who has been struggling to hit the heights this season. Beaten 4l into 8th in the 2022 edition when missing the break, and now 5lbs lower.
- 11. Gorak – Trainer: Charlie Fellowes, Jockey: Mikkel Mortensen – Dual course winner over 1m and 1m2f. Tapped for toe in two previous efforts over 6f
- 12. Albasheer – Trainer: Archie Watson, Jockey: Hollie Doyle – Smart in juvenile days and bounced back when dead heating at York in August. Stuck in traffic last time out at the Curragh and remains 12lb below his career-high mark.
- 13. Ramazan – Trainer: Richard Fahey, Jockey: Oisin Orr – Second three-year-old in the line-up. Runner up in 2yo event at this meeting in 2022 and in form with wins in two of last three starts. Those at 7f but he has won over this trip.
- 14. Bielsa – Trainer: Kevin Ryan, Jockey: Rowan Scott – Impressive winner of this in 2021 and only 1lb higher here. Mid division in defence of his crown, but going well of late and a solid third off this mark in the Stewards Cup last time out.
- 15. Juan Les Pins – Trainer: Michael Appleby, Jockey: Alistair Rawlinson – Six-time 6f handicap winner who was a good second in Listed company last time out. Ran on well for third here in 2022 but is now 6lb higher.
- 16 Lethal Levi – Trainer: Karl Burke, Jockey: Clifford Lee – All six career wins have come at this trip and placed on only previous visit to Ayr. There or thereabouts so far this season, but needs to improve in the first-time visor.
- 17. Magical Spirit – Trainer: Kevin Ryan, Jockey: Tom Eaves – Course and distance winner back in 2020 and scored off 1lb lower at Doncaster in April. Travelled well for a long way in the Stewards Cup.
- 18. Mr Wagyu – Trainer: John Quinn, Jockey: Jason Hart – Consistent sort who has hit the frame in five of seven outings over this course and distance. Running well without winning this season and is now 5lb lower than his career-high winning mark.
- 19. Aleezdancer – Trainer: Kevin Ryan, Jockey: Shane Gray – Never involved in the 2022 edition and now 2lb higher. Hit and miss this year, but last time out fifth in the Stewards Cup was a step back in the right direction.
- 20. Probe – Trainer: Jennie Candish, Jockey: Frederick Larsen – Has struggled since being hit with a 7lb rise for a Newmarket win in May. Eased 2lb ahead of this test.
- 21. Paws For Thought – Trainer: Donald McCain, Jockey: Robert Whearty – Four of six career wins around the twists and turns of Catterick and Chester. First visit here and remains on a career-high mark.
- 22. Significantly – Trainer: Julie Camacho, Jockey: Joe Fanning – 6lb higher than when second over track and trip in May. Has improved since that comeback outing, and just failed to get up in the Portland at Doncaster off this mark seven days ago.
- 23. Mondammej – Trainer: Antony Brittain, Jockey: Cam Hardie – Tumbling in the weights but zero from six over this trip on turf and overall losing run now extends to a massive 23.
- 24. Lequinto – Trainer: Tony Carroll, Jockey: Connor Beasley – Decent record over this trip on turf and the all-weather, and two good recent runs at Windsor, but never defied a mark this high.
- 25. It Just Takes Time – Trainer: Mark Walford, Jockey: Dougie Costello – Has looked in the grip of the handicapper since two wins over this trip in May and June. Overall record of eight top-two finishes from 17 starts at the distance, and now only 1lb higher than latest win.