Five soft-ground lovers to keep in mind for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup

By David Croft
Thu 20 Sep 2018

Deep ground looks a certainty for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday. The draw made live on Racing UK on Thursday morning will undoubtedly play a part but just as important will be those horses who are able to handle the expected testing going.

Here are five contenders to keep a close eye on given the likely conditions.


Trainer: Mick Easterby. General odds: 20-1. Draw: 24

The eight-year-old has been limited to only two starts this season because of the quick ground conditions during the summer.

He scored at Listed level on soft ground at the Lincoln meeting over six furlongs at Doncaster and his latest effort, whenfinishing last of eight at Chester from a bad draw after five months off on ground too quick for him, is easily excused.

That outting seems likely to have put him spot on for this assignment as he relishes 6f on soft going. He was not disgraced when eighth in the 2016 renewal.


Trainer: Richard Fahey. Odds: 9-1

Growl goes close in the 2016 Gold Cup

Seems to have been around for a long time, but is still only six.

He's versatile regards the going, although it was definitely on the soft side when he beat all bar Brando in the 2016 Gold Cup off a mark of 101.

Growl is 2lb lower this year and again hinted his turn was close when a close third at Chester last time. The one negative is that he has been expensive to follow, winning four of his 37 races.


Trainer: Adrian Keatley. Odds: 25-1. Draw: 23

A Group One winner back in 2014 when taking the Sprint Cup at Haydock, he is able to race off a mark of 101 which is the same rating he finished fourth off in this race in 2016 behind subsequent Group One winner Brando.

He ran consistently well at the start of this season; winning a handicap off 95 on desperate ground at Naas and has not been seen since beaten 12 lengths in a Group Two behind subsequent Diamond Jubilee winner Merchant Navy.

His four-month break should have freshened him up and a big run would come as no surprise.


Trainer: Fozzy Stack. Odds: 7-1. Draw: 17

The son of Pivotal finished a half-length behind Havana Grey in the Group 1 "Flying Five" Stakes at the Curragh last Sunday.

As a consequnce, he is officially 10lb "well in" for his return to handicap company.

He is able to race off a mark of 101, which looks lenient given some of his other soft ground exploits. Provided his exertions last weekend have not left a mark, he should take all the beating.


Trainer: David O'Meara. Odds: 33-1. Draw: 11

Has been really progressive throughout this year. He began by winning on his return at Chelmsford off a mark of 78 in April and has not looked back.

Four subsequent wins have seen his mark rise to to 100 - enough for him to run in this cavalry charge.

He is in red-hot form and 6f on soft ground holds no fears for the four-year-old son of Lope De Vega. He is in a deeper race but could still have further improvement in him.

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