2019 Ayr Gold Cup Festival day one tips – Race-by-race selections for day one of the autumn highlight

Ayr host the opening day of their Ayr Gold Cup Festival meeting on Thursday, featuring the Listed Doonside Cup.

Ayr host the opening day of their Ayr Gold Cup Festival meeting on Thursday, featuring the Listed Doonside Cup.

Brian Healy looks ahead to the opening day of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival meeting and gives his race-by-race selections for a cracking first day racecard.

The first of three days’ competitive horse racing action goes to post north of the border at Ayr on Thursday as the opening day of the Ayr Gold Cup meeting gets underway with a solid eight-race card which features Listed action in the shape of the Doonside Cup.

The 1m2f feature race spearheads Thursday’s action and gets underway at 3.30pm as the fifth race of the day where a field of seven runners will face the starter with each bidding to land the £36,000-plus first prize.

1:30 – EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl4 (2yo) 1m
2:00 – Cala Homes Handicap Cl4 (3yo+ 0-85) 7f
2:30 – Jimmy Lawrie Memorial Handicap (Div I) Cl5 (3yo+ 0-75) 1m
3:00 – Jimmy Lawrie Memorial Handicap (Div II) Cl5 (3yo+ 0-75) 1m
3:30 – William Hill Doonside Cup Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f
4:00 – British Stallion Studs Scottish Premier Series EBF Fillies’ Handicap Cl4 (3yo+ 0-85) 1m2f
4:30 – Brandinghub Signs & Print Ayrshire Handicap Cl5 (3yo+ 0-70) 5f
5:00 – S.T. Andrew Plant Hire Handicap Cl5 (3yo+ 0-70) 1m5f

Brian Healy takes a race-by-race look ahead to the opening day of the Ayr Gold Cup meeting and gives his selections for all eight races on a competitive racecard.

1:30 – EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl4 (2yo) 1m

MORISCO (11/8, Bet365) should find this a good deal easier than the Acomb Stakes he contested last time out, and Tom Dascombe’s charge can get back on the scoresheet despite having to concede weight to this field.

The Requinto colt had shaped well on his debut at Sandown back in July, and although he beat only one rival home on that occasion he did shape as if he would come on for the experience given that he ran very green early and wasn’t knocked about.

The runner-up and third from that debut have both won since, and he duly stepped up for the experience to run out a ready winner next time at Newcastle, beating Flylikeaneagle and others by just over one length but appearing to win a shade cosily. That form has also been boosted by the runner-up and fourth horses home going on to register subsequent wins also.

Far from disgraced in finishing fifth behind Valdermoro at York latest, not helped by being slowly away, he should find this easier and he sets the standard on his form to date so every chance he can get back to winning ways now with the step up in trip likely to be in his favour.

Tom Dascombe

Tom Dascombe can get the Ayr Gold Cup meeting off to a winning start

2:00 – Cala Homes Handicap Cl4 (3yo+ 0-85) 7f

MAGGIES ANGEL (15/2, William Hill) emerged from a spell in the doldrums when scoring at Musselburgh last month, and Richard Fahey’s charge may be able to follow up here.

The Dark Angel filly sported first-time cheekpieces for that outing, and the headgear appeared to have the desired effect as she ran out a comfortable winner over Harvest Day to score by just over one length.

The runner-up from that race has won since, and the handicapper has only raised her 4lbs for the success which leaves her still well-treated on her old form given she had placed in Listed company earlier in her career from a mark as high as 95.

While the Musley Bank trainer saddles three in the race, Paul Hanagan takes over in the saddle for this assignment and if that latest run gives her a confidence boost with the headgear retained then she can win again here.

2:30 – Jimmy Lawrie Memorial Handicap (Div I) Cl5 (3yo+ 0-75) 1m

ROYAL REGENT (7/1, William Hill) has a decent record at the Scottish venue, winning four times and making the frame on four other occasions from his starts, and Lucy Normile’s charge could get back on the scoresheet here to end a losing run stretching back to last August when the Urgent Request scored his last win.

That came over course and distance where he beat Gworn, and his last couple of outings have hinted that his turn to return to the winners’ enclosure may not be too far away with a pair of third-place efforts here which includes under similar conditions to these.

Beaten around two lengths’ latest behind Three Castles, he split a pair of subsequent winners and a repeat could see him get back on the winning ways from a mark 7lbs below his last successful rating.

This drop to one mile ought not to pose too much of a problem, and he can go close with conditions fine.

3:00 – Jimmy Lawrie Memorial Handicap (Div II) Cl5 (3yo+ 0-75) 1m

VENTURA ROYAL (15/2, Unibet) doesn’t have too many miles on the clock, and David O’Meara’s charge got back to winning ways when successful at Musselburgh last month in what was a career-best effort by the Teofilo filly.

Her sole previous win had come at Redcar almost two years previously, but having had only eight runs in the interim prior to getting back on the scoresheet she is obviously relatively low mileage, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see her find some further measure of improvement.

She had two lengths to spare latest over How Bizarre, winning a shade readily, and a subsequent 5lbs rise in the weights is workable given that she posted her breakthrough win from this mark so she could still find some further improvement.

The return of Danny Tudhope to the saddle augurs well and the pair look set for a bold bid in what looks a winnable contest if turning up in similar form to her latest win.

3:30 – William Hill Doonside Cup Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f

A chance is taken on FOREST RANGER (11/2, William Hill) coming back to winning form after a couple of disappointing runs, and Richard Fahey’s charge – one of two in the race – could appreciate this step down into calmer waters.

The dual-Group Two winner has failed to beat a rival home the last twice in starts at York in Group Two and Group Three level; but possibly doesn’t show his best on the Knavesmire, and he could be worth chancing away from that venue to bounce back.

The Lawman gelding struck his latest win in the Group Two Huxley Stakes at Chester back in May, having found only Zabeel Prince too good the time before in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes, so he clearly has the ability to go close in this Listed prize.

His last of six runners in the Strensall Stakes latest saw him beaten only around three lengths having set out to make all; the third from that race has won a Group Two since and easing back into slightly less strong opposition could provide a return to the winners’ enclosure with these conditions no problem.

He has to give away 7lbs and more to this field, but he is the class act in the race and he could well come back to winning form.

Forest Ranger

Forest Ranger can get back to winning ways in the Doonside Cup

4:00 – British Stallion Studs Scottish Premier Series EBF Fillies’ Handicap Cl4 (3yo+ 0-85) 1m2f

BOLLIN JOAN (10/1, William Hill) is none too consistent, but Tim Easterby’s charge could be worth chancing to get back to winning ways here.

The Mount Nelson filly is a dual-winner this term, scoring both successes at Doncaster with the latest coming in July where she ran out a three-parts winner over Katiesheidinlisa; but subsequent starts have been disappointing, and she failed to beat a rival home behind Regal Director at Redcar last month.

She did run better in defeat latest at York in an apprentices’ contest, beaten just over one length behind Shamad over a longer trip, and a repeat of that effort may be good enough here given she was a shade unfortunate not to have finished closer having met with trouble in running.

She competes from the same mark here, and she ought to get a strong pace to aim at so every chance she could bounce back under David Allan to pick up the score in a winnable contest.

4:30 – Brandinghub Signs & Print Ayrshire Handicap Cl5 (3yo+ 0-70) 5f

B FIFTY TWO (9/1, Unibet) has been a consistent sort this term, and Marjorie Fife’s charge can get back to winning ways having not been beaten far latest.

A dual-winner this campaign, scoring both successes at Catterick, he has been a model of consistency inbetween those wins with four in-the-frame efforts, and the Dark Angel gelding wasn’t beaten far latest under a penalty back at the North Yorkshire track nine days ago behind Carlovian.

Recent runs have come over six furlongs, but he is fully effective over the minimum trip and turns out here from his proper handicap mark which remains workable on his old form although he is due to go up 2lbs in future runs.

He could advantage of this lower rating however to get back on the scoresheet with Jane Elliott continuing to take off 3lbs.

5:00 – S.T. Andrew Plant Hire Handicap Cl5 (3yo+ 0-70) 1m5f

TRUE ROMANCE (7/1, William Hill) was thwarted in his hat-trick bid when finishing fourth at Thirsk last month, but Julia Brooke’s charge can quickly bounce back to winning form here.

The Mastercraftsman gelding had won previously at Musselburgh over a furlong longer than this trip prior to stepping down in trip to run out a ready winner at Catterick last month, beating Spark Of War.

A third run in less than a month on ground possibly softer than ideal may have caught him out latest where he was beaten around two lengths behind Near Kettering at Thirsk when last seen; but he has better ground here and he’s been freshened up by a month off the track.

He is only 2lbs higher in the weights here and he could be worth chancing to get back to winning ways from his workable mark having scored from higher ratings in the past.

2019 AYR GOLD CUP MEETING TIPS – DAY ONE SELECTIONS

1:30 – MORISCO (11/8, Bet365)
2:00 – MAGGIES ANGEL (15/2, William Hill)
2:30 – ROYAL REGENT (7/1, William Hill)
3:00 – VENTURA ROYAL (15/2, Unibet)
3:30 – FOREST RANGER (11/2, William Hill)
4:00 – BOLLIN JOAN (10/1, William Hill)
4:30 – B FIFTY TWO (9/1, Unibet)
5:00 – TRUE ROMANCE (7/1, William Hill)