Tom’s handed over the reins of this weekend’s column to the Betting Directory staff as he would rather assume Best Man duties for column regular, Lord Culcheth, than write for his loyal army of fans! Regular readers who may be familiar with the name could be forgiven for thinking that Culcheth is in fact a fictitious character dreamed up to merely entertain Tom’s unique sense of humour in his weekly postings on the site. However, we can assure followers that all personalities mentioned are genuine and the only thing we want to know is why Tom has reneged on his column this week when over the past six years he has managed to deliver from all sorts of weird and wonderful locations…Surely the top table has room for a laptop that he can fulfil his tipping commitments between consuming copious pints of Peroni, sausage and bean canopies and delivering the all-important Best Man speech.
Best of luck to the happy couple and to Tom with his speech and whilst they’re busy partying away, we’ll be hoping that champagne corks will be popping north of the border with a winner in the Ayr Gold Cup.
There are eight races live on Channel Four on Saturday afternoon and the class two handicap over six furlongs is the pick of the action with 27 runners set to go to post in a bid to land the £100,000 first prize. The David O’Meara trained Watchable moved to the head of the betting this week following his win in the International Stakes at the Curragh last Sunday and whilst the four-year-old must shoulder a five pound penalty for that victory, he still looks fairly well treated. He has finished in the top three on his last three starts, which have come in fields of 28, 29 and 20 runners respectively, suggesting that a cavalry charge at the Scottish venue should be to his liking and he won’t be short of backers at a best price of 9/1 with Betfred.
It should however be noted that no favourite has won the Ayr Gold Cup since the David Barron trained Coastal Bluff obliged way back in 1996 and whilst there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Watchable could well be capable of ending that 18 year hiatus for the jolly in this race, it could pay to look elsewhere for a bigger price alternative.
That alternative could well come in the form of Irish Raider, An Saighdiur, who can be backed at odds of 25/1 with Bet Victor, who are paying five places for each-way backers. Running predominantly in group races this season, the Andrew Slattery trained runner hasn’t found winning easy with just one victory to the seven-year-old’s name in 2014, that coming back in April in a six furlong listed race at Cork where he demolished nine rivals, including subsequent Group Three winner, Scream Blue Murder, by five lengths. However, a return to handicap company is likely to suit the son of Acclamation who is best seen when making the running and he could well manage to dominate from the front on Saturday having been drawn high in stall 23 (the winner of Friday’s Bronze Cup, which is run over the same course and distance was drawn in 28).
Furthermore, An Saighdiur has run in the Silver Cup on this card for the past two years, finishing third on both occasions when towards the head of the weights, adding further support to the case that he can play a major role in the race but the one piece of form that stands out more than anything else is the third behind Slade Power in the Group Three Greenland Stakes at the Curragh back in May. The selection was just under four lengths behind the Ed Lynam trained winner that day, whose two subsequent Group One wins suggest that An Saighdiur was far from disgraced when the two clashed and is more than capable of holding his own in top class company.
Things do need to fall right for An Saighdiur but based on what he is capable when putting his best foot forward, the draw and familiarity with the six furlong trip at Ayr, he’s certainly worth taking an each-way chance on at 25/1 and when he is as short as 16/1 with some firms there’s certainly some value at 25s.
395 miles south of Ayr at Newbury, the Berkshire track plays host to a decent card which includes three group races, the pick of which is the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes at 2:20 in which it is worth siding each-way with the Charlie Hills trained Strath Burn at an appealing 8/1 in the eight runner race. A case can be made for the majority of this field, including the 13/8 favourite, Limato. Unbeaten in three starts, including a course and distance success last time out, the jolly could be anything but it’s worth letting others take a chance on the Henry Candy trained runner at short odds. Second favourite, Jungle Cat, whilst impressive on numerous starts this season, looks difficult to win with as one victory in six starts would suggest and the highly regarded Baitha Alga must bounce back from his Gimcrack flop last time out.
As such, Strath Burn is taken to upset the odds on just his third start. Winner of a five furlong maiden on his debut, the two-year-old only narrowly went down to Richard Hannon’s Kool Kompany at Maisons-Laffitte on his last start in July when a half-length second. A short break is likely to bring about further improvement from this son of Equiano and at 8/1 with bet365, who are paying 1/4 odd for the first three home, he’s worth taking a punt on.
Earlier on the Newbury card at 1:50, the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup can go the way of Hillstar for the Sir Michael Stout yard. Dreadfully unlucky this season with four seconds from his last four starts, the four-year-old is a best price 5/2 chance with Bet Victor to shake off the bout of ‘seconditus’ and this looks the ideal opportunity. The form of all four near misses stacks up better than the form of any other runner in the race, including those that have won this season and whilst it could be a case of Hillstar simply doesn’t want to go past any rival in the stretch, he is worth one last chance.
Saturday’s Best Bets from Ayr and Newbury
1:50 Newbury – Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup – Hillstar @ 5/2 with Bet Victor
2:20 Nebury – Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes – Strath Burn (each way) @ 8/1 with bet365
3:50 Ayr – Ayr Gold Cup – An Saighdiur (each way) @ 25/1 with Bet Victor