Growl on the prowl for Gold
View from connections ahead of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cups at Ayr's Western Meeting on Saturday.
Dr Marwan Koukash has always had this race in mind for Growl
Richard Fahey appears to have a strong chance of winning back-to-back William Hill Ayr Gold Cups with long-time ante-post favourite Growl.
Bought out of Brian Meehan's yard at the end of last season, it took Fahey a while to unlock his undoubted potential.
However, wins at Nottingham and Windsor in June gave him his confidence back and he has since finished fourth in both the Bunbury and Stewards' Cups, looking slightly unfortunate in the latter.
After Don't Touch obliged for favourite-backers 12 months ago, Fahey is aiming to be the toast of the punters once more with the Dr Marwan Koukash-owned four-year-old.
The Malton handler said: "The Ayr Gold Cup is a fantastic race to win. We all want to win it and we were lucky enough to do it last year, but that counts for nothing this year.
"You need to be a Group horse to nearly get in, never mind win it – it's got very competitive.
"Marwan had his eye on him for a while so it was a good call to get him as he always wanted him for this race. At the time I couldn't see where he was coming from, but, to be fair, once we got him here and got his head in front he turned a corner.
"He was a little unlucky at Goodwood. Ryan (Moore) felt he should nearly have won, but the same thing could happen here.
"He'll go on any ground, which is always the sign of a decent racehorse. We've kept him fresh since Goodwood, we took him away for a bit of work and we're happy."
Growl will break from stall six, with Fahey perfectly satisfied to have selected a low draw.
He told Racing UK: "You can forget the history of the race, I'm happy there (stall six). We do have pace besides us so I'm comfortable with where we are. The 5-1 on offer for him is a bit tight, but he's in good form.
"He ran well at Goodwood, we're happy with him and it doesn't matter what the ground is."
"He did a piece of work the other morning that he's never done before for Adrian or me. Pat said he'd run a good race in the Ayr Gold Cup and I'm hoping he's right. He's on fire now so hopefully we can do the business."
Chris Hayes on G Force
Another horse heading to the race in peak form is Magnus Maximus for first-season trainer Robyn Brisland.
Wins at Chelmsford and Ascot recently mean he carries an 8lb penalty.
"A lot of the credit for his improvement must go to Martin Harley," said Brisland.
"When he tried to make all (of the running) on him at Goodwood, he didn't lose by far and came back as if he had won, full of confidence.
"The last twice we've let him jump and run and he just loves it. He was able to dictate at Goodwood over seven (furlongs) but has the pace to do it over six.
"He should really be three from three so even though he's got the penalties we think he's well-in. I couldn't be happier with him. He's straightforward to deal with and he's still improving."
The last Scottish-trained horse to win the feature was Roman Warrior in 1975 but Keith Dalgleish is aiming to end that wait with Ascription, having his first run since leaving Hugo Palmer.
"We got him at the July sales and he's a horse who did really well for Hugo," said Dalgleish.
"It will be his first run for a year, over a trip he's never run over. As he's only ever won over a mile it's a huge ask. You need to get a bit further to win it, though, so we'll give it a go.
"Whatever happens he's a lovely horse for next year. His attitude is good, his homework is good and this won't be the be all and end all."
Irish interest is served by G Force, now with Adrian Keatley but winner of a Haydock Sprint Cup in his pomp for David O'Meara.
Although he has not shown his old form of late, jockey Chris Hayes is expecting a bold show.
"He did a piece of work the other morning that he's never done before for Adrian or me," said Hayes.
"We were very happy with him going to Navan. Pat Smullen rode him that day as I was at Haydock. Pat said he'd run a good race in the Ayr Gold Cup and I'm hoping he's right.
"He's had one or two little issues after I rode him in Goodwood in the Stewards' Cup. He travelled as well as anything in that race, then two and a half (furlongs) out he just bottomed out.
"We've found out what the reason was and Adrian got it addressed. He was a little short of work going to Navan so it was nice to see him finish off the race.
"He's on fire now so hopefully we can do the business."
"The last twice we've let him jump and run and he just loves it. He should really be 3 from 3 so even though he's got the penalties we think he's well-in. I couldn't be happier with him. He's straightforward to deal with and still improving."
Robyn Brisland on Magnus Maximus
Nameitwhatyoulike has already taken plenty of money off the sponsors this season after winning the William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon, before following up in Listed company at York.
He has picked up a 5lb penalty, but has the assistance of Ebor-winning rider Adam McNamara, whose claim negates that burden.
Owner Simon Chappell said: "He could do with a shower or two, but it won't be quick ground. We're in bonus time with him. The Wilfrid was the plan as I'm from Ripon and the Listed race was a brilliant.
"We knew he'd get a penalty but we've now got Adam who takes 5lb off as Connor (Beasley) is at Newbury.
"The draw (in stall four) is interesting. We'll blast out and try and make all (the running) and I can't see many drawn low who'll challenge us – it's all if he can hold on."
Karl Burke runs Rivellino but fears the ground will be too soft.
"He wants better ground, but he's entitled to take his chance," said Burke.
"He's been third in a Stewards' Cup and third in a Wokingham so he deserves to win one of these, but I think it will be in the summer."
Glen Moss was third in the Wokingham for Michael Dods, proving his liking for big fields, and owner Ritchie Fiddes believes he can be forgiven his run last time out.
"He just went too fast at York so we can put a line through that," he said.
"He had a bruised foot which meant he missed races at York and the Curragh. Michael could have run him but when we got him back in form this was a race we highlighted for him.
"We got the draw (stall 17) we wanted and he's in really good form. Paul (Mulrennan) rode him the other day and said he felt great.
"All his form this season has worked out so we're hopeful he'll go close."
Poyle Vinnie was second in this race 12 months ago but has yet to reproduce that form.
His trainer Michael Appleby, who also saddles Lulu The Zulu, would like see some rain for his pair.
"They are drawn next to each other (in stalls 22 and 23)," said Appleby.
"There'll both have a good chance. I just hope they get a bit more rain there. The softer the better for both of them.
"Whether we're drawn on the right side or not, we'll have to see, but both are in good form."