(Champion Jockey Paul Hanagan can pick up the Ayr Gold Cup for the 2nd year in a row)
Saturday sees Europe's richest sprint handicap in the Ayr Gold Cup & the usual trainers have multiple runners with Dandy Nicholls (6 winners in last 11 runnings) running 2, Kevin Ryan 3 & Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey having 5 chances in the race. Fahey runs the top weight Majestic Myles & it may well have been a deliberate tactic in order to keep the weights of his other runners down with all of them carrying less than 9 stone. Of Fahey's runners Mayson appears to be the pick, as a lightly raced 3 year old colt he's open to all sorts of improvement, is drawn well in stall 5 & is the pick of 2010 champion jockey Paul Hanagan. Mayson competed in the Group 2 Mill Reef stakes on its final 2 year old run before having a great comeback race when 3rd at a big price to Pepper Lane in the Great St Wilfrid. That was its first race for 11 months & although Pepper Lane won well that day there is a 6 pound switch around in the weights in Mayson's favour plus almost inevitable improvement. Obviously a race like this with 27 runners is ultra competitive but Mayson seems to have impeccable credentials & more scope for improvement than any other horse in the race, the key to winning a handicap is to outperform the grader's assigned mark & he can do that, back Mayson at 16/1 each way with 5 places available.
Further South Newbury has a great card with 3 Group races including the Mill Reef for 2 year olds & their Arc trial, we're concentrating on a value bet in the Group 3 sprint race. Katla has only raced over the minimum distance once finishing 4th in a decent Listed contest at Ayr earlier this year & it could be argued that it may be too short a distance to see her at her best but the rain softened ground should help & she has one piece of form that really stands out. In Katla's last race the promising Empowering was just behind but in 3rd place was Alanza, John Ox's filly that has since gone on to take two Listed races & a Group 3 at Doncaster's St Leger meeting in some style. Katla gets all the allowances as a 3 year old filly, receiving 8 pounds from hot favourite Deacon Blues, he'll be tough to beat but many of the others shouldn't be: Astrophysical Jet's wins have all come with firm in the going description; Night Carnation & Medicean Man have both been beaten by Dinkum Diamond recently but Dinkum Diamond looks consistent yet unlikely to win this. At 12/1 & 1/4 the odds for 3 places with several bookmakers an each way bet looks like a sensible option especially with this also being 13/8 favourite Deacon Blues first attempt at the trip.
(Meeting Abandoned) Over in Ireland there is an interesting mixed flat & jumps card at Listowel & a solid bet selection awaits in the last of the day at 5.55 in the 1 mile 6 furlong flat race. Pittoni was a Grade 1 winning juvenile hurdler & was well backed in the 2010 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham before taking a break & finishing 4th in this race last year & then going off a very well backed 7/4 but disappointing favourite in a 21 runner handicap at Leopardstown. Raced only twice this year Pittoni picked up a handicap hurdle in decent style & then held subsequent Group 3 winner Galileo's Choice in a similar race to this with the rest of the field well behind, Charles Byrnes has rested him since but that form looks massively solid with classy hurdler Luska Lad well held on a line of form with Galileo's Choice. Elyaddi is a good stayer as shown when 2nd in the 2 mile 5 furlong Queen Alexandra stakes at Royal Ascot but may find things happening a little quickly over this comparative sprint distance! Pittoni can round off a good day for everyone with a convincing success & a best morning price should be taken, odds of 5/4 or better look very fair.
3.20 Ayr - Mayson each way at 16/1 (5 places with most bookmakers apart from Ladbrokes)
3.40 Newbury - Katla each way at 12/1 (1/4 the odds with Bet 365, BlueSquare, Ladbrokes & Coral)
5.55 Listowel - Pittoni at a best morning price (Meeting Abandoned)