Andy Stephens shares his best bet for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup and also has fancies at Newmarket and Newbury.
Northern Express was my main ante-post selection for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup and nothing has shaken my confidence in him ahead of Saturday’s feature.
He’s been in fabulous form in competitive handicaps over longer trips all season and his stamina could be crucial because, as expected, the ground looks certain to be on the soft side. The times on Thursday were slow and more rain fell late afternoon, with further showers forecast.
Northern Express is versatile regards the ground and Paul Mulrennan says in his informative weekly Racing TV column that the gelding has got quicker this year. And his draw in 19 (two winners of the race have jumped from there in the past decade) looks ideal as he’s near pace angles and several well-fancied rivals.
Virgin Bet quote him at 18-1 and offer seven places for each-way players, which looks the way to go. Coral and Ladbrokes make him a best-priced 22-1 and go five places, if you want less of a safety net.
Rathbone predictably heads the market for the Silver Cup as he’s able to race off a mark 2lb lower than when fending off the late challenge of Jump The Gun (pair clear) in a useful contest at Doncaster last time.
However, he’s not shone at the Western Meeting for the past four years – including when well-in on another occasion - and so I’ll be giving him a swerve.
Jump The Gun is effectively 5lb worse off with Rathbone but he was closing him down at the finish (winner got first run) and has slipped to a mark 10lb lower than when an unlucky fifth in last year’s Silver Cup. It was a timely return to form for him at Town Moor and the general 8-1 is appealing.
At Newbury, Not So Sleepy looks worth an interest at 8-1 in the Dubai International Autumn Cup.
The evergreen 11-year-old has been absent since playing a supporting role behind Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but he has a good record when fresh and, unlike others in the line-up, will be at home on the testing ground.
The 13-furlong trip is probably a minimum for him these days, but that will be offset by the testing conditions. He was a fine third in the Cesarewitch when last seen on the Flat (the third time he’s been placed in the race) and runs off the same mark, with Oisin Murphy snapped up to ride.
Mustazeed is the one to be on in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap. He goes well in the mud and gained successive big-field handicap wins at Newbury in the first half of the season.
The five-year-old never looked like extending his winning sequence at Sandown on his latest start but things didn’t pan out for him that day and his subsequent 11-week break suggests he also might have had an issue.Discover all the latest free bets and bookmaker sign-up offers from Racing TV’s trusted bookmaker partners! Click here for more details.
His mark hasn’t budged in the interim but Kaiya Fraser, who is belatedly reunited with him, eases his burden by 5lb. The combination went close at Doncaster at the backend of last year.
The highlight at Newmarket is the Turners Cesarewitch Trial Handicap, which can go the way of Irish raider Extensio. The six-year-old, one of a handful of horses trained by Pat O’Donnell in Co Limerick, won with plenty in hand at Clonmel last time, having previously won in good style on his hurdling bow. And before that he'd run crackers in big fields at The Curragh and Leopardstown.
Extensio is not entered in the Cesarewitch itself – and would be rated too low to get in the race in any case – but looks on a favourable mark for his first venture on these shores.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday
2.05 Newbury: Not So Sleepy £2 win at 8-1 with bet365
2.25 Ayr: Jump The Gun £1 win and 1.50 each-way at 8-1 with Betfred (six places)
2.40 Newbury: Mustazeed £2.50 win at 13-2 with bet365
3.35 Ayr: Northern Express £2 win with Coral at 22-1 and £2 each-way at 18-1 with Virgin Bet (seven places)
4.00 Newmarket: Extensio £2.50 winat 9-2 with William Hill
36p Each-Way Super Yankee
2.05 Newbury: Not So Sleepy
2.25 Ayr: Jump The Gun
2.40 Newbury: Mustazeed
3.35 Ayr: Northern Express
4.00 Newmarket: Extensio
Plus 64p each-way double on Jump The Gun and Northern ExpressWatch every race live from 62 British and Irish racecourses on TV, online and mobile, including The Cambridgeshire Meeting and Dubai Future Champions Festival from Newmarket, QIPCO British Champions Day from Ascot and more!
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