Cheval can claim Ayr Gold Cup

Ian Ogg analyses the last 10 renewals of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup and Dubai Duty Free Handicap at Newbury and picks out the key statistics

The Dubai Duty Free Handicap used to serve as a trial for the Cambridgeshire but there is just one week between the races now and that has had a knock-on affect.

Mark Johnston's horses often seem impervious to any statistical trends but Stars Over The Sea would be a rare winner for the highest rated runner while Sennockian Star is from an age group that hasn't tasted success in the last decade.

Indeed, only the lightly raced Air Pilot has struck for horses aged older than four so we can put a line through Watersmeet, last year's winner What About Carlo and pass over Passover.

Luca Cumani has saddled three winners in this period (2010 the most recent) and is represented by Bermondsey who has struggled since his impressive Sandown win although he wasn't beaten far when fourth in a class 2 handicap won by Baydar on his penultimate start.

Hugo Palmer's colt is certainly progressive while it's fascinating to see London Gold Cup winner Imperial Aviator back in handicap company with cheekpieces applied.

The market leader at the time of writing is Autocratic who hasn't been sighted since Newmarket's July Festival but that's not a negative with two winners in this period defying similar absences. The form of his last run has worked out well enough and his claims are hard to fault but this hasn't been a great race for the market leaders.

We have to be a little pernickety to get a short-list of a decent size though and we could look to take on Baydar, Zhui Feng and Scarlet Dragon on account of their handicap marks while five of the last six winners have won or been placed in a class 2 handicap which accounts for a few more.

Having done that, we are left with few viable alternatives given that rank outsiders have struggled to make an impact but Lord Ben Stack is one to consider.

Admittedly, it often pays to race further back in this contest but two winners have defied penalties and he appeared to win with something to spare at Haydock. That was only a class 3 but this is a horse who was so highly regarded that he ran in the Dante as a three-year-old.

Karl Burke admitted that 'things hadn't gone right for him' and perhaps the son of Dylan Thomas may now be in a position to kick on but it's hard to look beyond Autocratic.

  • Winners have been aged three (4), four (5) and five.
  • Winners have been rated between 87 and 102 with nine between 87 and 97.
  • Winners have carried between 8-6 and 9-10 with nine between 8-6 and 9-3.
  • Winners have been priced between 4/1 and 16/1 with seven in single figures.
  • Two joint-favourites have been successful with a further five placed.
  • Six winners finished in the frame on their preceding start with three successful.
  • Winners had had between four and 18 career starts with eight having raced no more than nine times.
  • Seven winners had won over 10 furlongs or beyond; two of the exceptions were having their first start beyond 1m.

It usually pays to concentrate on runners aged between four and six in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup with the nine renewals preceding last year's all falling to runners in that age group.

Applying that does help us to take out that many horses but we can put a line through half a dozen, including a few that are relatively fancied in Nameithwhatyoulike, Jack Dexter and Hoof It.

Growl is all the rage for this race and produced an eyecatching run in the Stewards' Cup – a race that used to have a big influence but less so in recent years – on his latest outing. He previously contested the Bunbury Cup over seven furlongs and that race has produced three of the last four winners.

This has been a bad race for market leaders with his trainer, Richard Fahey, saddling the only successful market leader in the three-year-old Don't Touch 12 months ago.

He's also won twice this year and Don't Touch is the only winner to have won more than one handicap during the same season, indeed four winners were gaining their first success of the campaign.

If we put a line through those that have won more than one handicap, the list becomes a lot more manageable. All of the winners had run in either September or August so a line goes through some interesting runners including Aeolus, Hillbilly Boy, Flaming Spear, Absolutely So and Teruntum Star.

Brando and Watchable look high enough in the weights which leaves an intriguing quintet with a wealth warning as all are in the 25/1+ range and all the winners have been 20/1 or shorter.

Two of them, Poyle Vinnie and G Force, I put up on Tuesday in an ante-post preview (unrelated to stats) with the other three being Baraweez, Rivellino and Sir Robert Cheval.

The last two named both contested the Stewards' Cup and the booking of last year's winning jockey, Tony Hamilton, takes the eye for Sir Robert Cheval. He ran well on his first run since Goodwood behind one of the market leaders for this race in Magnus Maximus and has winning form over further than this trip which has to be viewed in a positive light.

It may be stretching a point to argue the same for Baraweez who has done nearly all over further but he did have a sharpener over an extended five furlongs last time. He's slipping towards a decent mark but ready preference is for Robert Cowell's runner who has plenty of form in similar contests to this.

  • Winners have been aged three, four (3), five (3) and six (3).
  • Winners have been weighted between 8-10 and 9-9 with eight between 8-13 and 9-6.
  • Winners have been rated between 97 and 109 with seven of the last eight between 99 and 105.
  • Three winners have been drawn between 2 & 8, six between 15 & 22, the other in 12.
  • Winners have been priced between 6/1 and 20/1; one favourite has won and four have been placed.
  • All winners had either won or been placed in a class 2 handicap.
  • Kevin Ryan has saddled three winners and a further three placed runners.
  • Six winners finished in the first four on their previous start.
  • Four winners were scoring for the first time that season.

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