The Ayr Gold Cup is always one of the end of season highlights when it comes to flat racing in the UK and once again it is looking like a cracking renewal this year. The ante post betting market for the big handicap has been live for some time now and at this stage there are a handful of horses being well backed to claim the win. It is a notoriously difficult race for punters to pick over with the last singled priced winner coming all the way back in 1996 when Coastal Bluff won at 3/1. Since then we have seen two winners as big as 33/1 claim the big prize while last year we saw Captain Ramius win at odds of 16/1 for Kevin Ryan.
Kevin Ryan has trained the Ayr Gold cup winner on three occasions, including the last two, which should ensure he is a man to follow once again on Saturday. Captain Ramius will be in the field as he bids to become the first back-to-back winner of the race in recent memory. He has been in ok form so far in 2013 but was down the field last time out in the Great St Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon and connections will be hoping he bounces back here. He has been trained with the Ayr Gold Cup in mind which is a plus and course form should never be underestimated which should make his price of around 14/1 a good each-way shout.
It was Baccarat who won the Great St Wilfrid Stakes at Ripon last month and he has been well backed in the Ayr Gold Cup betting ever since. Trainer Richard Fahey trained Fonthill Road to success in the Ary Gold cup in 2006 and in the form of Baccarat he has high hopes for a second winner in 2013. He is reported to be in fine form at home and should have no problem with a little bit of cut in the ground if the rain comes as expected before the race on Saturday. He has been trained with this race in mind and is clearly a leading contender with the bookmakers who make Baccarat a general 10/1 shot to win at this stage.
Another potential runner who has long been touted as an Ayr Gold Cup contender is the top weight, Jack Dexter. His trainer Jim Goldie has been bullish about the chances of his four-year-old for some time now and there is every chance he could start as the well backed favourite by the time the gates open. Jack Dexter (8/1) will have to carry top weight after a strong season in Group Company but Goldie is convinced that there is more to come this weekend which ensures he has to be taken seriously. Jack Dexter was good enough to finish fourth in the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and has course form north of the border having won the Ayr Bronze Cup at this meeting 12 months ago.
Other contenders to keep an eye out for include Gabriels Lad (12/1) who has had a good season for Robert Winston and Khubala (12/1) who is being well fancied for trainer Hugo Palmer. Khubala will be out of stall 23 which could be a positive while he was good enough to finish in sixth place in a Group 2 at Baden-Baden last time which ensures that he should be well respected. There are two other horses towards the top of the weights that should also be respected in the form of Hoof It (16/1) and Hawkeyethenoo (16/1). These two were top class sprinters a couple of years ago but have just fallen away from Group 1 level in recent times which could make them an interesting prospect. Hoof It in particular does make some each-way appeal from a high stall, he looked to be in decent shape when third in the Betfred sprint Cup last time out and could be down to a workable mark for Mick Easterby.
As always, the Ayr Gold Cup is shaping up to be a frighteningly difficult race from a betting point of view with any number of horses having genuine claims. The feeling is that the high numbers will have an advantage when it comes to the draw and with that in mind we do like the chances of Khubala who has been the subject of bullish updates this week. Trainer Hugo Palmer has said that the horse has been flying at home and his fourth place finish in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot during the summer looks top class. Punters who can get 12/1 about Khubala will be getting a horse with a fair weight on his back as well as one who appears to be in great form which ensures he takes our money on this occasion.