GREAT AMBASSADOR is in line for a crack at the Ayr Gold Cup after securing a comfortable win in the Download The MansionBet App Handicap at Newmarket.
Ed Walker’s progressive four-year-old followed up an impressive third-placed finish in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood with a near two-length success over Brando, seeing him confirmed as favourite for the big handicap north of the border.
The clash at Ayr is looking more and more like a re-run of the Goodwood race, the first three finishers all expected to make the trip for the six-furlong highlight of the Virgin Bet Gold Cup Festival.
Winner Commanche Falls is being targeted at the race with trainer Michael Dods hoping to find a suitable warm-up for his four-year-old, while runner-up Gulliver, trained by David O’Meara, is also expected to line up, reports SportShock.Net.
There was less than a length separating the first three finishers in the Stewards Cup, and early markets have Great Ambassador as 9/1 favourite to gain revenge on Commanche Falls (12/1), with Gulliver and the James Fanshawe-trained Fresh (both at odds 14/1, based on the UK horse betting apps) also near the top of the betting.
A drying surface is expected to boost Great Ambassador’s chances of winning the big handicap, with trainer Ed Walker believing both the draw and the conditions were key to his Goodwood defeat.
“If he’s drawn the other side he probably would have won, and he probably would have won if he hadn’t lugged across the track looking for some company,” said Walker of the third-placed finish in the Stewards Cup.
“It’s gutting, because I think we’ve been second, third and fourth in the race now in recent years. It’s a lovely race to win, and I’ll keep trying. It’s amazing how much speed this horse has – (jockey) Will (Buick) said you could bring him back to five.
“I think he’ll end up being a Pattern-book horse before the end of the year.”
The Ayr Gold Cup dates back to 1804 and was originally limited to horses bred and trained in Scotland. The field is formed from the highest-weighted horses entered for the race, with a maximum number of runners limited to 27. Those eliminated are offered to chance to compete in the Silver Cup, a consolation race introduced in 1992, and in 2009 a Bronze Cup was established for those missing out on the silver race. BBC Sport
It is one of the biggest betting races of the year and last year’s winner, Nahaarr, was the subject of massive gamble on the morning of the race. After trading at 8/1 overnight, the William Haggas-trained runner went off as 7/2 favourite, the shortest priced winner for 25 years.
Twelve months ago, Haggas was making a rare foray north of the border, but this year he has three entries, with Boosala (12/1) probably the most interesting of his runners. The four-year-old launched his career with two wins before a five-month absence from the track ended with a third-placed finish at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day 2020. Another extended absence has followed, with his entry in the Ayr Gold Cup clearly pricking the interest of punters and bookmakers alike.
Another Haggas runner Motawaajed (14/1) put in an impressive performance at Doncaster, beating favourite Dance Fever to win the Cazoo Handicap, but the big Ayr event would be a first run over six furlongs for the three-year-old.