AYR have been forced to cancel Friday’s card with the track still unraceable, and it remains to be seen whether Saturday’s Gold Cup card will get the go-ahead.
With that in mind, four of my initial selections are now null and void, but at least there’s a good Newbury card and some decent all-weather action at Newcastle to keep us busy.
Friday’s nap runs over at Newcastle – as I was keen to avoid the scenario of another non-runner which occured on Thursday – where Lina’s Star can claim the Handicap Nursery (Div 2) over six furlongs (7.45) on her first start for David O’Meara, having switched for the Richard Fahey yard.
The two-year-old filly was a good third at Carlisle on her nursery debut over the minimum trip, squeezed when looking for a run two out before running on inside the furlong pole. The step up in trip looks just what she must have a good chance of landing this off a mark of 65.
In the preceeding first division of the Nursery Handicap (7.15), Revenge looks to have a live chance of claiming a first victory for Tim Easterby.
This 55-rated two-year-old ran a fine race when third over seven furlongs at Kempton just nine days ago, looking to have every chance turning in but weakening late on as 71-rated favourite Sunbreak proved too strong.
That was a great effort from Revenge who looks likely to prove much better than his current rating in due course and the drop back in trip should be in his favour here. I’d be disappointed if he’s out of the frame, with Fahey’s charge Gangland looking the main danger, lurking on a lenient-looking mark of 67.
The highlight on Newbury’s card is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Cup Stakes, a listed contest over seven furlongs, which can go to Second Thought.
William Haggas’ three-year-old colt hasn’t been seen since May when running a cracker to be second to Harry Angel at Haydock in the Sandy Lane, with the latter named franking the form in no uncertain terms with subsequent wins at Newmarket in the July Cup before landing the Sprint Cup back at Haydock.
Second Thought was incredibly progressive over the winter with four impressive successes on the all-weather, and the drop in grade and step up in trip looks sure to suit here.
The Ayr Gold Cup itself is a notoriously difficult handicap to solve and it will be worth paying close attention to the results in Friday’s sprint handicaps at the course, as there is often a major draw bias.
However, regardless of where he’s drawn, Richard Fahey’s tremendous servant Rene Mathis looks sure to run his race with underfoot conditions to suit.
This seven-year-old gelding has previously landed big handicaps off marks of 99 and 101 and it’s taken over a year for his mark to drop back down to 100, when last seen winning a Conditions Stakes event at Thirsk back in April.
Rene Mathis has been off the track since but Fahey gave a positive update on the horse’s health this week and stated his intention to run, and with soft ground to suit he could run a massive race off his current mark.
Odds of 25/1 look to have underestimated his chances from stall 23.
See full story in the Chester Leader