Rory Delargy looks to Ayr for Friday's best bets....
"Aetna has been kept aside for a late season campaign since, with the prevalence of soft ground suiting such a policy..."
"The bigger the field, the bigger the certainty" was one of those confusing sayings I picked up from a childhood misspent in betting shops (well, one betting shop, as Cushendall isn't exactly a bustling metropolis), and while I've never seen the adage prove its worth, I'm hoping that it holds true at Ayr today, where Aetna looks a class apart in terms of form and scope in the 5f handicap at 14:20.
Mick Easterby has already tasted success with one he's laid out for the Western Meeting, with Boris Grigoriev landing a quiet touch yesterday, and Aetna looks to have outstanding claims as long as her low draw doesn't inconvenience her too much. She bolted up at Doncaster in the spring, before disappointing on her only try at a mile on faster ground at Nottinham in April, where the ground and/or trip seemed against her. Not disgraced back at seven furlongs at York, it was only when dropped to sprinting that she really showed what she could do.
A win over 5f at Newcastle in June saw her right back on track, but she did even better at Newmarket last time, when chasing home Dutch Masterpiece. That form looked very good at the time, especially with further progress on the cards, but the winner's subsequent success in the Flying Five at the Curragh paints in in an even better light. If anyone doubts the value of that formline (surely not), then a next-time-out Group 3 victory for third-placed Russian Soul at the same venue puts the proverbial icing on the cake.
Aetna has been kept aside for a late season campaign since, with the prevalence of soft ground suiting such a policy, and it needs to be remembered that the shrewd Easterby considered supplementing her for the 1000 Guineas after that debut win. I expect a handicap mark of 83 will soon look very lenient, and the daughter of Indesatchel can continue her progress against exposed rivals today.
Another horse looking to make a winning comeback after a summer break is Albert Bridge in the staying handicap at 15:25. Ralph Beckett's charge isn't the most consistent, but is a more effective operator on soft ground, and was a winner over thirteen furlongs at this meeting last year. He proved his stamina when runner-up in the mud at Leopardstown in November, and is better than he's been able to show in 2 starts in the spring. With his astute handler sure to have him cherry ripe, he can get back on the progressive trail, with today's test of stamina expected to play to his strengths. He's unexposed as a stayer, and as such is worth siding with.
Both at Ayr
Back Aetna @ 5.95/1 in the 14:20 (NAP)
Back Albert Bridge @ 6.411/2 in the 15:25 (NB)