Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gold Cup Hopefuls Stage an Ayr Raid

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gold Cup Hopefuls Stage an Ayr Raid

Article excerpt

THERE'S been plenty of gold, silver and bronze handed out in recent weeks to our Olympians and Paralympians, and it's the turn of the equine athletes at Ayr today. The same colours are up for grabs but in different events as the Ayr Gold Cup and the silver and bronze versions are contested on the same day for the first time. Deciding who will take the honours doesn't get any easier, with maximum fields for each of the cups. However, one important factor in any assessment is the ability to cope with testing conditions.

Alben Star has long been on the radar as a horse capable of winning a big prize. He still has to do it, but at least has time on his side, and I have no intention of overlooking him on this occasion.

He ran well in both the Wokingham and Stewards' Cup before disappointing in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon where he may not have been suited by the undulations.

While his early-season wins were gained on the all-weather, he showed he can handle the mud when landing a conditions race at Haydock in July.

He appeared to have plenty on his plate taking on Morache Music, who had finished ahead of him at Royal Ascot and was 7lb better off, but he saw his race out well under a good ride from Jamie Spencer.

Last year's winner Our Jonathan is only a pound higher as a result of some belowpar efforts this year. The ground has come right for him and Kevin Ryan, who has three others in the line-up, reports that he has the five-year-old in the same sort of form as this time last year.

To win back-to-back Ayr Gold Cups is a big ask, however, and, much as I respect his claims, he is passed over.

The Scots have been waiting 37 years for a home-trained winner, since Roman Warrior triumphed for Nigel Angus, and I think there will be a few too good for their main hope Hawkeyethenoo, who has gone up 5lb for winning the Stewards' Cup. I think that will remain his moment of glory for this season and he could also have done without the rain. …

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