Horse Racing By Jon Ivan-Duke


Three horses could wipe the smile from William Hill this weekend in their sponsored race, the Ayr Gold Cup. Liabilities have been building on Richard Fahey’s favourite Don’t Touch (currently 7-1), Highland Acclaim (12-1) and Jack Dexter (12-1).

William Hill briefly pushed Don’t Touch out to 8-1 after a perceived negative draw (he was third last out of the hat and was put in Stall 8), but that was snapped up and his odds reverted to 7-1.

Highland Acclaim has shortened from the five day declarations from 16-1 to 12-1 and Jack Dexter from 20-1 to 12-1 – they are the two next worst results.

Toofi has been the subject of strong money in William Hill shops since the draw and was trimmed this morning to 14-1 from 16-1, while there has also been some chunky each-way support on Heaven’s Guest at 20-1.

“It’s a very lively market but Don’t Touch, Highland Acclaim and Jack Dexter are the ‘Terrible Trio’ we need to beat!” said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.

“Many of the best sprint handicappers in Europe are here and it should all make for an adrenaline-fuelled dash for Scotland’s richest Flat race.”


William Hill Ayr Gold Cup: 7-1 Don’t Touch, 12-1 Blaine, Buckstay, Highland Acclaim, Jack Dexter, 14-1 Algar Lad, Golden Steps, Tanzeel, Toofi, 16-1 Lexington Abbey, Rene Mathis, Rivellino, 20-1 Heaven’s Guest, Majestic Moon, 25-1 Dinkum Diamond, Highland Colori, Hoof It, Poyle Vinnie, Red Pike, Sound Advice, 33-1 Boom The Groom, Ninjago, Professor, 40-1 Astrophysics, Glory Awaits, (Enhanced Each Way ¼ Odds Places 1,2,3,4,5)

William Hill Ayr Silver Cup: 7-1 George Bowen, Johara, 8-1 Eccleston, 10-1 Fendale, 12-1 Hillbilly Boy, Nameitwhatyoulike, 14-1 Shared Equity, 16-1 An Saighdiur, 20-1 Jamaican Bolt, Tatlisu, 25-1 Barnet Fair, Boomerang Bob, Boy In The Bar, Chookie Royale, Desert Force, Fast Track, Foxtrot Romeo, Hawkeyethenoo, Kimberella, Northgate Lad, Steve Prescott, Teruntum Star, 33-1 Desert Ace, Gran Canaria Queen, Perfect Pasture, (EW ¼ Odds Places 1,2,3,4)

Horse Factfile

Jack Dexter – flying the flag for Scottish trainer Jim Goldie, bidding to become first Scottish trained winner since Roman Warrior in 1975. Won the Bronze Cup in 2012 and 3rd and 8th respectively in last two Gold Cups
Heaven’s Guest  - trained by Richard Fahey, has finished fourth in the race the last two years. Won a valuable handicap at Ascot in July.
Glory Awaits – not won for over a year when he landed the £225,000 Topkapi Trophy in Turkey. Trainer Kevin Ryan has won the race three times since 2007.
Rene Mathis – one of [3 or 4] for trainer Richard Fahey, down the field in last year’s race. Won well at Goodwood latest.
Tanzeel – Charlie Hills is having a great year with his sprinters, this horse won the Dash at York, but found 7f too far last time. Lightly raced for his age.
Rivellino – 3rd in the Stewards Cup behind Magical Memory (the winner has since finished 3rd in Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock). Trainer Karl Burke won this in 1998 with Always Alight
Sound Advice – in cracking form, looking for a hat-trick, but in 50 starts under rules he has never run in a sprint.
Highland Colori – won this race in 2013 and now below that winning mark. Dangerous if on song, but not won for almost two years.
Poyle Vinnie – won Scottish Stewards’ Cup in July. If you’d put £1 on every horse in the last five years that Phillip Makin has ridden for Keith Dalgleish, you’d be £37 in profit.
Golden Steps – trained by Marco Botti, gone up 7lb in the weights for winning the Stewards’ Sprint at Goodwood. Frankie Dettori has ridden the Ayr Gold Cup winner twice before.
Dinkum Diamond – last win was in March 2014 when landing the William Hill Cammidge Trophy, but a repeat of his effort when 4th in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood this summer would see him go close.
Toofi – 2nd behind Hoof It at Doncaster last weekend and 2nd in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood. Doesn’t win often, but often in the places.
Professor – Michael Attwater doesn’t send many on the long journey to Ayr from his base in Epsom, so it’s notable this former Listed winner is sent here after a decent second at Haydock.
Majestic Moon – trained by John Gallagher, carries 5lb penalty for winning a handicap at Ascot latest. 16th in the Ayr Silver Cup last year
Ninjago – 2nd in 2014 Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, trained by Richard Hannon, he needs to bounce back after a streak of poor performances
Buckstay – in good form but never raced over this distance. Peter Chapple-Hyam has only sent one horse to Ayr in the last few seasons (and it was a winner).
Red Pike – part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, all five of this gelding’s wins have come over this distance and should make bold bid for trainer Bryan Smart
Algar Lad – David O’Meara is having an incredible season and there may be a bit more left in the locker with this progressive gelding
Astrophysics – formerly with David Elsworth and now with Ann Duffield, he was a narrow 2nd in Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes last year. Only had six career starts and not completely ruled out
Don’t Touch – the one to beat for Richard Fahey. Unbeaten in four starts, he won the William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon latest, bids to become the first 3yo winner of the race since Funfair Wane in 2002.
Boom The Groom – Tony Carroll’s colt was 3rd in the Epsom Dash in June, but he has not won on turf since his debut in 2013
Highland Acclaim – fast finishing 5th in last weekend’s Portland Handicap at Doncaster and highly respected for this season’s in-form trainer David O’Meara
Blaine – Kevin Ryan has a great record in the race and this gelding is now 6lb lower in the weights than when 3rd in this race last year
Hoof It – sneaks in to the race under a penalty after winning at Doncaster. Mick Easterby’s sprinter is owned by golf professionals Chubby Chandler and Lee Westwood
Lexington Abbey – on a career high mark but in good form and Pat Smullen rode the horse to finish fifth in last year’s Ayr Silver Cup


Generally, the trends from the turn of the century, show that on quicker ground, middle to high numbers are preferred when trying to find the winner and on slower ground, lower numbers have a better chance.

Winning Stalls From 2000 - 2014

When the ground is slower than good to soft – Winning Stalls: 7, 8, 20, 12, 8

When the ground is good to soft or quicker – Winning Stalls: 22, 16, 10, 2, 6, 22, 15, 17, 19, 19

Winning Stall
Low (Stall 9 or lower): 5
Middle (Stall 10-18): 5
High (Stall 19 or higher): 5

First five finishing places (Win, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th)
Low (Stall 9 or lower): 22
Middle (Stall 10-18): 25
High (Stall 19 or higher): 28


The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup is increasing in quality every year:

Average Official Rating Of The Winner First Five Renewals Of This Century (2000 to 2004): 92

Average Official Rating Of The Winner Last Five Renewals (2010 to 2014): 102

Since the turn of the century, there has been an even spread of 4yo, 5yo and 6yo winners, but 3yo’s have only won once and horses that are 7yo or older have not won any.

Age Of Winner (2000 to 2014)
3yo: 1 winner
4yo: 5 winners
5yo: 5 winners
6yo: 4 winners
7yo or older: No winners

In terms of the actual weight carried in the race, those in the middle of the weights have won a higher proportion of races

Actual weight carried:
9st 3lb or more: 4 winners
8st 9lb – 9st 2lb: 8 winners
8st 8lb or less: 3 winners

Further stats

  • Nine of the last 15 winners of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup have been trained by either David Nicholls or Kevin Ryan.
  • Horses that don’t make the cut for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup can run in the Ayr Silver Cup or Ayr Bronze Cup
  • No winner aged 7 years or older since Hard To Figure in 1993
  • The last winning favourite was 3-1 victor Coastal Bluff in 1996
  • Last year’s winner Louis The Pious was the shortest-priced winner since 2001 (10/1)
  • The biggest priced winners since the turn of the century have returned at 33-1 (in 2000 and 2004)
  • The average SP of the winner in the last 15 renewals is just under 18/1

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