Saturday Horse Racing Tips: Kevin Ryan can bag another Ayr Gold Cup this weekend

22 September 2023

We are fast approaching the end of the Flat season and the weather is beginning to take a wintery turn, which means soft ground and small fields will be the norm over the next month.

The anomaly this week is the Ayr Gold Cup, which will unsurprisingly feature a maximum 25-runner field. Despite heritage handicaps often looking like complete minefields for punters, this event has proved relatively kind in the last decade with eight of the last ten winners going off at 12/1 or shorter.

This renewal could follow the same trend with those towards the top of the market appearing far more enticing than the outsiders, and my relatively concise shortlist featured just four runners: Aleezdancer, Bielsa, Juan Les Pins and Rohaan. Saying that, the middle two were quickly scratched off due to their high handicap marks - Bielsa is 0/16 off marks of 99 or higher, while Juan Les Pins is 14lb higher than when third in this 12 months ago.

Rohaan is one of my favourite horses in training, but loyalty only stretches so far. He has performed well below par this season and, although he has now been given a chance by the handicapper, there isn’t a huge amount of value in his price given the risks attached. I’ll have a couple of quid on just in case, but it would be foolish to tip a horse solely based on allegiance

As a result, Aleezdancer has to be the play. This horse ran a very creditable fifth in a heavy ground Stewards’ Cup when last seen and has been freshened up with a subsequent 49-day layoff. He is a regular in these kinds of races, yet remains open to improvement as a relatively lightly raced four-year-old compared to his older and more streetwise foes.

Trainer Kevin Ryan has won two of the last eight editions of this contest and has quite clearly targeted him here with the ambition of extending his streak. “My main hope for him is the Ayr Gold Cup,” he said back on April 2, 2023.

With form figures of 111531165 on ground described as good to soft or worse, he will also get his ideal underfoot conditions. There’s a lot going in his favour, yet Aleezdancer is a tasty 12/1 and I can’t ignore that.

Two other horses catch my eye on a pretty trappy day of action. The first is Pure Dignity, who returns to the track after a 367-day layoff to run in the 1m2f Turners Of Soham Fillies’ Handicap (4.35 Newmarket).

Backing horses off year-long absences is not something I do often, but this filly looked extremely talented in two runs last season and could be very well handicapped off a mark of 86. Connections paid a cool €2.5million for her as a yearling, largely due to her pedigree (by Dubawi out of a Galileo mare whose progeny include Sottsass, Sistercharlie and My Sister Nat), so they will be keen to see her progress into a black-type performer.

She bolted up on her debut last season, beating an 87-rated Godolphin filly in the process, before running second behind the 112-rated Laurel on the all-weather at Kempton. She’s surely better than her mark suggests and Roger Varian is pretty good at getting his horses fit first time up.

Finally, I’ll have a small wager on Totnes in the 1m2f Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.40) over at Newbury. This race has cut up a fair amount since the initial entries and the defection of George Boughey’s King Lear has certainly taken some shine off the event.

Andrew Balding certainly won’t be complaining, though, as it presents the perfect opportunity for Totnes to rack up the hat-trick. Both of his last two victories have been bloodless - he scooted up the inside at Chelmsford before being nudged out under hands-and-heels for a Racing League success at Chepstow. The handicapper has raised him 8lb but he’s still progressing at a rate of knots.

Totnes remains unexposed over this trip and has been purchased by new owners prior to this contest, so they will be looking for a winning start. Hopefully rider Oisin Murphy can provide it for them - and us!

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

Totnes (2.40 Newbury) @ 7/2
Aleezdancer (3.35 Ayr) @ 12/1
Pure Dignity (4.35 Newmarket) @ 7/2

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