BIG RACE PREVIEW: The feature race of this weekend is the highly anticipated Ayr Gold Cup which looks set to be a thriller.
The 10 year trends on the Ayr Gold Cup tell us that a four-year-old, rated somewhere around 104, with a weight of 9st 4lb or thereabouts and with a double figure draw historically does well in the race. If applying the trend directly then Commanche Falls would become centre of attention and cases could be made for horses such as Great Ambassador, Gulliver and at a stretch, Popmaster.
Starting with Commanche Falls, the Michael Dods trained four-year-old has been on a steep upward curve all year. He started off the season with a victory over course and distance off a mark of 84. Following his latest win in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood where he beat Gulliver and Great Ambassador by a neck and three quarters of a length, he now runs here from a mark 105 and so he has taken a hike of 21lbs in the weights as a result of his marked improvement. With forecast ground conditions likely to suit there is every reason to believe he will go well here.
Gulliver has been admirably consistent all year and he keeps running big races in big handicaps without actually getting his head in front. His run at the Curragh just six days ago in a Premier Sprint Handicap was a remarkable effort as he was just about in last position with two furlongs to run yet he scythed through the field to finish fourth and he would have finished third in two more strides. He is clearly in great heart at present and whilst he keeps coming up short and he has not won a race for almost a year, he is actually only one pound higher in the weights than when recording that latest victory. He is a player.
But maybe it is trainer Ed Walker who holds the key to the race with both Great Ambassador and Popmaster looking to hold very strong chances. Great Ambassador is looking like a group class sprinter in waiting and his latest victory in the listed Garrowby Stakes at York saw him beat the 109 rated Tabdeed by a length and a half with Gulliver just under four lengths behind in fourth place. He races off a mark of 106 here and so his chance is obvious. As for Popmaster, then he is a classically improving three-year-old who looks as though he will be listed/group class this time next year. He won a Class 2 Ascot handicap with real authority last time and if you look back to his first race this year at Lingfield in March, he was beaten a short-head and a neck by Rohaan and Diligent Harry and these two horse are now rated 115 and 110 respectively. Popmaster runs here off a mark of 100 and he has strong claims.
Of the rest Just Frank and Bielsa could be right in the mix and at bigger prices Sunday Sovereign and Edraak could give their supporters a run for their money. However it is a top-class handicap and a wide open affair and one suspects that a future listed/group class performer may have the necessary 3-5lb in hand to take this before moving into a higher grade either this season or next.
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