Published 15:03 20/09
Ayr Racecourse on the West Coast of Scotland takes centre stage on Saturday with the William Hill-sponsored Ayr Gold Cup commanding top billing at 3:50 and the consolation Silver Cup providing solid support at 2:40.
The former race has been won by some of the sport’s best sprinters, not least the subsequent multiple Group 1 winner Lochsong in 1992. There is nothing as good as her in this year’s 25-runner field, but the race promises to be as competitive as ever.
Gulliver is my each-way fancy on the back of an eye-catching run in Ireland as recently as last Sunday, though he will need things to go better for him here than they did there.
There are somewhat easier races to try to crack, however, both at Ayr and at the day’s other major meeting, at Newbury.
The 6f Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at 2:55 on the latter course has attracted a decent field of eight runners, which include the promising Pierre Lapin and the more established Mystery Power. Neither of those look natural sprinters, however – especially with the ground riding fast judged by times on Friday – and MALOTRU may well have what it takes to get right in among them.
The selection won by a clear margin at Chelmsford in May and from fairly useful rivals in a Group 3 at Milan in June, then shaped a good deal better than the result when fourth to Threat on firm ground in the Gimcrack Stakes at York, where he got stuck in traffic until too late in the day and finished well.
The impression that day was that Malotru was not much inferior to the smart winner, and that should be enough to see him there or thereabouts here.
Pierre Lapin won his only start despite looking like a work in progress, and could be pretty good, but he strode like a miler that day. Mystery Power has never run at this short and similarly looks as if a mile will be his bag before long.
Eight runners make this a decent each-way vehicle, and that is the way in which to support Malotru unless defections reduce the numbers.
The other Group races at Newbury – the World Trophy at 1:45 and the Legacy Cup at 2:20 – look priced about right, but a red-hot DDF Handicap at 3:30 provides a decent opportunity for the progressive CARADOC, from the in-form Ed Walker stable.
He showed a very useful turn of foot when winning slowly run 10f races at Newmarket and Windsor in the summer then did notably well against a pace bias stepped up to 12f at York, beaten narrowly by Tamreer and Corelli having had to be dropped towards the rear to get him to settle.
His free-going nature is a slight concern again, despite the return to 10f, but there are a few pace-forcers in this, and the splits last time say he is still well-handicapped.
So are a few of his rivals, unfortunately, not least the upwardly mobile but penalised Forest Of Dean. But we get a better price as a result, and Caradoc under Ryan Moore looks worth it.
Back at Ayr, Kynren could finally come good in the mile handicap at 2:00 against slightly lesser rivals than he usually encounters, but I am prepared to leave him at what is a fairly short price.
A superior betting proposition looks to be LAMBETH WALK in the William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes at 3:15.
This should mostly come down to her and the locally trained Orlaith on form, with some of the others promising but nowhere near as accomplished so far.
Lambeth Walk has contested three of the fastest juvenile races of the year on her most recent appearances, doing well to split the smart Platinum Star and the useful Oh Purple Reign in the Champion 2-Y-O Trophy at Ripon last time despite things not panning out especially well for her.
That was a Listed race, and this is a Group 3, but this is an easier task if anything, and Lambeth Walk is proven at 6f whereas her main rival is not.
Simon's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
2:55 NEWBURY, SATURDAY – DDF MILL REEF STAKES
1pt each-way MALOTRU (6-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Bet Victor, Paddy Power, 11-2 Betfred, Ladbrokes, William Hill)
3:15 AYR, SATURDAY – WILLIAM HILL FIRTH OF CLYDE STAKES
1pt win LAMBETH WALK (5-1 general)
3:30 NEWBURY, SATURDAY – DDF HANDICAP
1pt win CARADOC (15-2 William Hill, 7-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Bet Victor, Paddy Power, 13-2 general)