Ayrshire Post

Golden highway

- IAIN FERGUSON

More than 20,000 horseracin­g fans are expected in town this week as sprint stars do battle for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.

Scotland’s richest flat race will attract punters from across Britain as some of the country’s top trainers roll into town.

Three days of high- class action culminate with Saturday’s big race, one of four broadcast live on ITV4.

Racecourse PR Iain Ferguson said: “As ever, the main event is wide open and looks like being a tremendous race.

“The weather is set fair and three days of fantastic action are on the cards.”

The ever changing betting market for Saturday’s William Hill Ayr Gold Cup took another twist on Monday afternoon when several of the more fancied horses pulled out of the race at the five- day stage.

Hot ante post favourite Victory Day was the most notable absentee and others prominent in the betting that won’t run include Flavius Titus and Flaming Spear, which forced a major rethink from the bookies.

Step forward Buffer Zone as the new favourite at odds of 8- 1 with the sponsors.

This four year- old gelding won a valuable handicap at the Curragh on Sunday with ease.

He led inside the final furlong and won by a length and three quarters from Make A Challenge.

His trainer Ger Lyons was quoted after the race as saying he was a group horse running in a handicap and to be fair I have been saying a horse really needs to be Group class to be in a with a chance of winning the Gold Cup.

I have to say straightaw­ay that my cash won’t be on Buffer Zone, instead I am siding with a runner that is priced up at a massive 25/ 1. Air Raid is the horse in question and although he has been off the track since early August when he flopped in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, his form before that run on fast ground gives him a real chance at Ayr.

His trainer Jedd O’Keefe is enjoying his best ever season since taking out his licence 20 years ago and has a good strike rate at the track.

Jack Garritty, who normally does well at this meeting, will be riding and I am sweet on this combinatio­n.

Summerghan­d, from the David O’Meara yard, is another horse I have been following with the Gold Cup in mind and he has run extremely well in defeat in a number of big runner handicaps.

Danny Tudhope could well take the ride now Victory Day is out.

I fully expect Summerghan­d to run another huge race but the worry I have is that although he has kept his form and always run his race, it is 13 months since he last crossed the line in front.

You can never rule out a Kevin Ryan trained runner in the Gold Cup as the Thirsk handler has won the race no fewer than four times.

He has a few entries still standing their ground with Major Jumbo who is set to carry 9st 8lb his best chance of making it five.

Others worth taking a look at include Tim Easterby’s Staxton and another David O’Meara runner in Cold Stare.

Trainer Richard Fahey is sending a huge team to Ayr and although he may struggle to repeat his 2006 Ayr Gold Cup win when he saddled Fonthill Road to win, his Red Balloons has the look of a horse who could win the Silver Cup.

He will be ridden by Tudhope.

Tickets are still available for all three days – call 01292 2641799 or go online at www. ayrgoldcup. co. uk

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 ??  ?? Ayr we go Crowds will pour in over the three day festival
Ayr we go Crowds will pour in over the three day festival
 ??  ?? Form Trainer Jedd O’Keefe
Form Trainer Jedd O’Keefe

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