Kevin Blake has two each-way tips at Ayr
Veteran sprinter fancied in the Silver Cup
A 25/126.00 each-way shot in the Ayr Gold Cup
The ITV cameras will be crossing the border this week on the way to Ayr in beautiful Scotland. The Ayr Gold Cup meeting is one of the highlights of the entire racing year in Scotland and this year's action promises to be excellent.
Testing ground conditions can often prevail at the meeting, but this year it looks like the weather is set fair and the ground is likely to be close to good for Saturday's card.
Big-field sprint handicaps aren't to everyone's taste, but even if they aren't, the Ayr Gold Cup meeting is one of the more appealing places to get involved in these fiercely-competitive contests. With a view to that, let's get stuck in.
The Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup Handicap (14:25) brings together all sorts of form lines, but it has been notable how well the form from Racing League races has been standing up in the last couple of months. The final night of the competition might well have showcased the winner of this race in the shape of the David O'Meara-trained Gulliver.
The nine-year-old has had his share of travels over the years (groan) in what has been a wonderful career. Rated as high as 110 back in 2020, he clearly isn't the power of old and has slipped notably in the ratings in the last year or so.
However, having shaped very nicely indeed on his penultimate start at Thirsk, he showed that the fire still burns in him by turning a Racing League handicap at Southwell into a procession last week. Fair enough, it was only a 0-80, but the style in which he took apart a competitive field at that level suggests that he might well be able to follow up in his current form.
This course and distance on this type of ground are a set of circumstances that have shown Gulliver to good effect in the past. In fact, if one casts their mind back to 2019, Gulliver finished a close third in the Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 98.
He is effectively 7lb higher than at Southwell, but is still very well handicapped on his old form. If he turns up in the same sort of order that saw him carry the Team Ireland silks to glorious victory at Southwell, he'll have a right chance of following up at this much more competitive level.
The main event the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap (15:35) has an even more difficult look to it. The one I came down on it is the Jennie Candlish-trained Probe.
Candlish has done particularly well since getting hold of the five-year-old, reinventing him as a sprinter with great success earlier this season. In particular, his win in the valuable Howden Handicap at Newmarket back in May stands out as a notably strong piece of form.
He hasn't reproduced that in recent starts, though there have eben mitigating circumstances in each of them. Freshened up since his last run, he is just 5lb higher than that aforementioned performance at Newmarket and that appeals as being a fair mark.
This sort of race over this trip is what promises to suit him best and a big effort from him would not surprise.