2019 Doonside Cup tips – Fahey’s 6/1 chance can return to winning ways in Ayr’s Thursday feature

Forest Ranger can bounce back to winning form in Thursday's Doonside Cup.

Forest Ranger can bounce back to winning form in Thursday’s Doonside Cup.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the Listed Doonside Cup, the feature race of day one of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

The feature race of Thursday’s opening day racecard for the Ayr Gold Cup Festival meeting is the Listed Doonside Cup which goes to post as the fifth race of the day at the Scottish track with a scheduled off-time of 3.30pm.

The ten furlongs contest has attracted a field of seven runners to contest for a £36,000+ first prize, and the Listed race boasts a solid roll-call of previous winners with the likes of Scottish, Sennockian Star, Sharestan and Poet all recent winners of this prize.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the seven-runner field who will face the starter for this contest, and he gives his big race selection to come out on top in a competitive contest.

What’s The Story (5/2, William Hill) is the sole runner in the race to arrive at the Scottish track on the back of a win on their previous outing, and Keith Dalgleish’s charge looks set for a big run having struck at York last month when beating Vale Of Kent in a competitive handicap contest.

The Harbour Watch gelding had also won on the Knavesmire in May, but his form inbetween those successes was indifferent although he did finish third back at York in Jyly, and he possibly saves his best for that venue.

He has won elsewhere, boasting early-career successes at Musselburgh and Doncaster, as well as Newcastle; but he could be worth taking on here back up in class and tackling this longer trip where he has only once made the frame in three outing at this yardage.

Add in that his best form seems to have come in bigger fields, this race may not be run to suit and he could prove vulnerable here.

Big Country (6/1, Paddy Power) beat Keith Dalgleish’s charge last term, and Michael Appleby’s charge holds decent claims on his best all-weather form from last term.

That said, the High Chaparral gelding also won a Listed race at Pontefract last July, beating Salateen, and he lost no caste in defeat on the all-weather over the winter where he locked horns on more than one occasion with the high-class Wissahickon although he failed to beat that rival in three encounters.

Having undergone wind surgery after finishing last of nine runners in the Magnolia Stakes, he stepped up on his reappearance run to finish four lengths’ fourth behind Fox Tal at Doncaster last week, but he possibly needs more to feature here.

Richard Fahey

Richard Fahey can saddle the winner of the Doonside Cup on Thursday

Richard Fahey saddles two in the race, and FOREST RANGER (6/1, William Hill) is the class act in the field although he arrives here on the back of two lesser efforts.

The Lawman gelding however could be worth chancing to bounce back here having won a second Group Two Huxley Stakes at Chester in May, and his subsequent poor efforts have both come at York where he has a poor record.

He took his losing streak to 0-5 latest in the Strensall Stakes when last seen, but he should appreciate having his sights eased and while he has to give 7lbs and more to his field if he were to come back to the level that has seen him win twice in Group Two company then he could well prove a tough nut to crack.

Despite finishing last of six last time out, he was beaten less than three lengths and the third from that race has since won a Group Two; while the fourth has since gone well in a competitive Ascot handicap so the form looks pretty solid despite his failure to beat a rival.

Softer ground is of no concern and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see a big effort dropped into Listed company.

Meanwhile, the second of the Fahey runners Exhort (7/1, Paddy Power) arrives on teh back of a lesser outing at Sandown latest where the Dutch Art filly beat only two home behind Lavender’s Blue in the Atalanta Stakes.

The four-year old however had largely been running well previously, winning a Listed contest at Pontefract in July and then not beaten far back there next time when finishing fourth in the Pomfret Stakes.

A previous course and distance winner, she has also made the frame here so a return to this venue could well elicit a revival; while the return to a longer trip will also suit, and she’s not one to be overlooked if she can bounce back.

Four White Socks (20/1, Paddy Power) looked a useful sort for Luca Cumani when getting off the mark over this trip at Goodwood on just her second outing last June.

However, things haven’t gone to plan since for the Lope De Vega filly who struggled subsequently and left Cumani for Harry Fry where she continued to struggle.

She failed to beat a rival home latest in a Newmarket Listed race behind Dame Malliot; but she crossed the line almost 100 lengths in arrears having blown the start, and she wasn’t given a hard time.

Nevertheless, this looks a tough assignment as she bids to get back on track and a move to Joseph Tuite will have to have had a positive effect for her to come out on top here.

Trainer Tom Dascombe

Trainer Tom Dascombe sends his Iconic Choice to Ayr to contest the Doonside Cup

Iconic Choice (7/2, Paddy Power) meanwhile hasn’t been in the best of form in recent starts, but the Sixties Icon filly has been tackling stronger company and ought to appreciate having her sights eased back into Listed grade.

Tom Dascombe’s charge was a regular winner last term, winning five times in all which included a Listed contest at Newbury last October where she ran out a two lengths’ winner over Glance.

Having shaped encouragingly on her return when touched off by Dandhu in the Fred Darling, she finished a creditable seventh in the 1000 Guineas before filling the same spot in subsequent outings at Dusseldorf and Chantilly respectively.

This is easier, but she has to prove her stamina stepping up to ten furlongs and she is yet to tackle this longer trip. However, if she gets the distance then she could go close on these terms, and as a winner on her only previous start here she has to be respected if shrugging off her recent lesser runs.

Completing the field, Encapsulation (11/2, Paddy Power) looks to bounce back from finishing last of six runners behind Fanny Logan at York when last seen in the Lyric Stakes at York. That rival has won since, and Andrew Balding’s charge could have more to offer having had just five career starts.

The Zoffany filly was a Clonmel winner back in April when trained by Noel Meade, and she almost made a winning start to life for this yard when beaten less than one length behind Hidden Message in the Coral Distaff at Sandown in July prior to that lesser outing latest.

Her only previous start over this longer trip had seen her go close behind Epsom Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood, and she could appreciate the softer ground here. Probably better than what she was able to show latest, she is another who can’t be overlooked in an open contest in which each of the seven runners have solid claims to this Listed prize.


A chance is taken on FOREST RANGER (6/1, 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.