Ayr Gold Cup
Saturday September 17, 15:45
1. Absolutely So (Andrew Balding) Dual listed winner ran as well as ever when fourth on his most recent outing in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. Promising apprentice takes off 3 lb, but faces tough task off top weight in a race this competitive.
2. Brando (Kevin Ryan) Won Group 3 Sprint Stakes at Sandown in July and not disgraced in better company twice since. 9 lb higher than when second in Wokingham, though, and may be vulnerable to an improver off this mark.
3. Perfect Pasture (Michael Easterby) Smart handicapper proved better than ever when winning valuable pot at the Curragh in July. Career-high mark to contend with now, though, and needs to bounce back from no-show at Ripon last time.
4. Ascription (Keith Dalgleish) Smart performer was a half-length second to Cable Bay in last year's Timeform Jury Stakes. However, poor effort when last of 10 in Challenge Stakes at Newmarket and difficult to fancy on stable debut after 11 months off the track.
5. Watchable (David O'Meara) Consistent in first four starts of the current campaign and not disgraced when third in Group 2 at Baden-Baden last month. Appears to face tough enough task back in a handicap, however, and others make more appeal.
6. Aeolus (Ed Walker) Small gelding who ran respectably when three lengths fourth in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury last time. This his first handicap since winning nursery at York in October 2013 and could outrun his odds with proven form on softer ground.
7. Orion's Bow (David Nicholls) Completed five-timer with dominant success at Hamilton in July and continued in top form when second in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. Race may have come too soon when eighth at Ripon last time and can't be ruled out if bouncing back.
8. Hillbilly Boy (Tom Dascombe) Better than ever when winning listed race at Chester in July, adopting usual front-running tactics and finding plenty for pressure to complete hat-trick at the course. Third in Silver Cup last year, but difficult task from 10 lb higher in the weights.
9. Nameitwhatyoulike (Bryan Smart) Won Great St Wilfrid Stakes in game fashion at Ripon last month and improved again to follow up in York listed race. Clearly thriving at present and respected, with 5 lb penalty offset by the claim of his promising jockey.
10. Kimberella (David Nicholls) Career-best when winning Sky Bet Dash at York in July, travelling strongly in the leaders slipstream and gaining victory his earlier consistency deserved. Below that form twice since, though, and may be feeling effects of busy start to the season.
11. Johnny Barnes (John Gosden) Satisfactory seasonal reappearance when fourth in listed race at Salisbury, but well below form last two starts and needs this new trip to spark a revival.
12. Glen Moss (Michael Dods) Run best excused when down the field on his most recent outing in the Group 3 City of York Stakes. Better judged on form of his third in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot and not impossibly treated off just 4 lb higher mark here.
13. G Force (Adrian Keatley) Group 1 winner in his prime for David O'Meara and took a step back in the right direction after breathing operation when third at Navan two weeks ago. This a different proposition, though, and opposable on balance of recent form.
14. Baraweez (Brian Ellison) Smart handicapper failed in his bid to win at Galway for a third straight year in July, but ran as well as ever in defeat and wasn't beaten far. Failed to convince back to sprinting last time, however, and may find this test too sharp.
15. Jack Dexter (Jim Goldie) Standing dish in this race since winning Bronze Cup in 2012 and was third off 9 lb higher mark in 2013. Back to form when fourth at Ascot in July and entitled to respect, with ease underfoot likely to see him in an even better light.
16. Growl (Richard Fahey) Shaped well when fourth on his most recent outing in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood, too far back in the wrong group and meeting trouble. Likely to have finished second with a bit more luck and looks the one to beat off a mark just 2 lb higher.
17. Magnus Maximus (Robyn Brisland) Chelmsford winner by five lengths on his penultimate start and improved again when making all at Ascot two weeks ago. Appeared to have a bit in hand on that occasion and obvious chance on ratings if in the same form here.
18. Rivellino (Karl Burke) Returned to form when sixth in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood in July and would have run to a similar level but for trouble in-running there last time. Can be difficult to predict, but every chance of improving on his 2015 tenth if on a going day here.
19. Final Venture (Alan Swinbank) Creditable fourth of 10 on his most recent outing in a listed race at Beverley, stumbling at the start but recovering to lead until the final half furlong. Game attitude should stand him in good stead and prolific winner looks sure to be thereabouts.
20. Teruntum Star (Kevin Ryan) Much improved when making a successful seasonal debut at Newmarket and can be forgiven below par effort there in May. Relatively unexposed for one in this sphere, goes well fresh and top jockey booked. Leading player.
21. Flaming Spear (Kevin Ryan) Disappointing when down the field at York in May and off the track since. Clearly not been the most straightforward to train, but shaped well when second on his seasonal debut at Newmarket and remains with potential off what looks a fair mark.
22. Hoof It (Michael Easterby) 2011 Stewards' Cup winner gained popular success in consolation race back at that venue last time. Clearly in good heart at present, but 4 lb higher here and huge effort required for nine-year-old to see off some progressive sorts.
23. Lulu The Zulu (Michael Appleby) Returned to something like her best form when landing Newmarket conditions event in June and run to similar level in defeat both starts since. Should run her race, but suspicion is she might just be in handicapper's grip at present.
24. Poyle Vinnie (Michael Appleby) Second in this race 12 months ago and produced one of better recent efforts when third at Chester last time. Beginning to get some respite from the handicapper and shortlisted off mark 4 lb lower than when placed last year.
25. Sir Robert Cheval (Robert Cowell) Consistent since joining this yard, placed in three of four starts and running as well as ever when third at Ascot two weeks ago. Trainer has to be respected in races like this, but work to do to reverse recent form with Magnus Maximus.
Timeform Ayr Gold Cup 1-2-3-4
2. Orion's Bow
3. Poyle Vinnie
4. Magnus Maximus
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
GROWL arguably looked unlucky not to win the Stewards' Cup (raced on unfavoured side) and can show he's still a sprinter firmly on the up and provide his yard with back-to-back wins in this race. It was probably one run too many for Orion's Bow in the Great St Wilfrid and he can get back on track after a short break. Last year's second Poyle Vinne and Magnus Maximus complete the shortlist.