Walker back on Gold Cup trail
Ed Walker is hoping the assessor's leniency will help Aeolus in his quest to end a losing streak going back to June 2015 when the six-year-old lines up for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday.
Aeolus may not have won since landing the Group Three Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle, but he showed he still has what it takes when second in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood over the same trip of six furlongs.
An experimental run over seven furlongs in the Group Three City of York Stakes on the Knavesmire failed, but Walker was happy the handicapper had left Aeolus on the same mark of 103 for the early-closing big sprint in Scotland.
Aeolus was ninth to Brando off a rating of 107 last September when Walker felt his choice of draw (19) turned out not to be a good one.
The Newmarket trainer said: "He is in great form. This was the obvious race after his good run in the Stewards' Cup and we thought in the meantime we'd have a go over seven furlongs at York but he ran a very rare bad race there. We don't know why.
"Otherwise he's in very good form and fingers crossed I can pick a better draw than I did last year."
Aeolus is already guaranteed a place in a maximum 25-strong line-up after a massive five-day confirmation entry of 184 horses – though there is the Silver and Bronze Cups for a lot of the unlucky ones.
Ante-post favourite, the Charlie Hills-trained Shanghai Glory, has gradually been hitting top form and was third in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last month in what was only his third start of the campaign.
Other leading contenders standing their ground are Roger Varian's Ekhtiyaar and the Andrew Balding-trained Scorching Heat, but neither are guaranteed a place at the moment.
Hugo Palmer's Gifted Master would have to carry top weight of 10st after he incurred a 5lb penalty for winning a Listed race at Newmarket late last month.
Richard Fahey's Kimberella is next on the list on 9st 11lb, while 2015 winner Don't Touch, Toscanini, last year's runner-up Growl and Mr Lupton are also among the Musley Bank trainer's big squad.
Other interesting horses to note include the Hills-trained Magical Memory, Gifted Master, Tommy Taylor, Johnny Barnes and Sainted.
Shanghai Glory is the solid 10-1 favourite with the sponsors, who trimmed Toscanini trimmed to 14-1 from 16-1.
"Toscanini has been supported since the latest declaration stage and is the big mover in the market," said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
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