Value Bet: Strike Gold with Star
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet has been in fine form with 16/1 and 9/1 winners the last two Saturdays – don't miss his Ayr advice.
Teruntum Star: Worth a bet in the Ayr Gold Cup
Value Bet Selections
Both Dr Marwan Koukash and Richard Fahey have had recent victories in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, but they will be aiming for their first shared success in the race when they team up with Growl on Saturday.
The four-year-old has steadily progressed since being bought by Koukash and sent to Fahey's, and his eye-catching fourth in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood has seen him hold the position of favourite for this race ever since the first ante-post lists were drawn up.
That position in the market is fully deserved. He's clearly still progressing, has long been thought of as ideal for this contest and he was unlucky not to win in Sussex.
A bit of juice in the ground at this trip looks perfect for him and he could well give jockey Graham Lee, third on Jack Dexter a couple of years ago, his first win in the race.
If the sponsors or any of the other bookies dangle relatively fancy prices about him on Saturday morning he could be worth getting on side, whatever else you back, but at the time of writing he's generally 11/2 and I'm not sure I'd want to put money on any horse at such odds in this race.
It's more competitive than that. You'd think he was thrown in at the weights to be so short in a 25-runner sprint handicap, but he's running off a mark 8lb higher than his best winning one and is worth avoiding at skinny odds on that basis alone.
As is typical for a top handicap these days, the weights are compressed with just 12lb separating the field and the lightly-raced progressive types are few and far between – a three-year-old isn't even in sight this year.
That gives an old fossil like Hoof It every chance as he could well put his experience to good use and Mick Easterby has got him right back in the groove this summer, as highlighted by his gambled-on success in the Stewards' Cup consolation race.
A 4lb rise for that win looks fairly lenient and he's worthy of consideration at 20s, but while the finest hour of his career came at Goodwood he's never really sparkled at Ayr, finishing eighth in this race twice, and he could run really well and fill a similar position again.
Dandy Nicholls has won this race on six occasions and his sprinters have been in great form this season, as advertised by Orion's Bow who racked up a five-timer. Below form at Ripon last time, he has his ideal conditions on Saturday and could run a big race after a mini break.
However, it's another trainer with a knack for winning the Ayr Gold Cup that I'm drawn to as Kevin Ryan could have another horse for the job in the shape of TERUNTUM STAR at 20/1 (bet365, Sporting Bet, Coral).
This horse has two ways of running and average isn't one of them as he seemingly either wins or finishes near to last, as he did when 24th in the Silver Cup this time last year.
However, the ground was probably a bit too fast for him that day as he's at his best when there's plenty of juice in the turf, as he showed when winning on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket in April.
That was off a mark of 95 and he won pretty easily, quickening clear in the final furlong in the style of a well-handicapped horse. He went back to Newmarket for the Guineas meeting and ran a rare average race when eighth of 16, but the ground was on the quick side for him again that day.
Kept away from fast turf since then, he's dropped 1lb and looks capable of landing a blow off 100. We know he goes well fresh as he showed on the Rowley Mile and it's interesting Pat Smullen takes the ride as he rode the yard's Captain Ramius to victory in this race four years ago.
He's a prominent racer and is drawn towards the stands' side pace, while there looks to be enough soft in the ground for him to put his best foot forward. At 20/1 he looks a big price to land Ryan his fourth Ayr Gold Cup.
Talking of pace and the draw, low numbers on the far side have dominated on the straight course in the few sprint races we've seen at Ayr this week, but I'm not convinced it will pan out like that in the big one.
The significant early pace looks to be stands' side with Hillbillyboy, Magnus Maximus and Final Venture all drawn high and they could well help force a gallop that sets things up for a closer.
With that in mind the other one I want to chance, JOHNNY BARNES (25/1 generally), is drawn close to that stands' side pace in 18 and he's arguably the most intriguing runner in the line-up.
I'm not sure John Gosden has ever had an Ayr Gold Cup runner, he certainly hasn't in the last decade, and this horse is remarkably having his first go at six furlongs in the race on what is his handicap debut.
That's because he's raced at pattern level for much of his short career, a Group Three win on soft ground at Deauville the winning highlight although he's run well in defeat on occasions too.
One such example was in the Listed King Richard III Stakes at Leicester in April, when he finished a good fourth after cruising through the seven-furlong contest – not the first time he's hinted that he'd be worth trying over a shorter trip.
He beat four rivals rated higher than his Saturday mark of 105 that day and he's excused his two defeats since then, as he was beaten in the Lockinge on faster ground than ideal while last time he missed the break and was then too keen over a mile at Windsor.
Being slow out of the stalls has become a bit of a habit with him, but I'm happy to chance he'll enjoy the quicker pace in this contest and he could well thrive in a big-field handicap over this trip with a bit of juice in the ground.
He is drawn low on the far side and he should have a good target to aim at in An Saighdiur, who looks sure to try and make all from stall two.
Reputation is a huge improver over six furlongs in a visor this season and he just shapes like a horse that is crying out for a strong gallop at this trip, something he should get at the weekend.
His last three starts over six have yielded a really unlucky third at Pontefract where he stumbled after being hampered, while he won at Leicester comfortably in August before being denied by a head in a small-field race at Newmarket last time.
Everything looks in place for a big run on Saturday and 16s looks a fair price.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +396.04pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).
Posted at 1705 BST on 16/09/16.
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