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Monday's top tips: Oisin Murphy can make rare trip to Ayr pay

By Will Hayler
Sun 23 Aug 2020

Will Hayler likes the look of two runners at Ayr, a meeting which will be shown live on Racing TV, and has another selection for the meeting at Bath.

 Flashback: Murphy and Highland Colori after landing the Ayr Gold Cup in 2013 (Focusonracing)
Flashback: Murphy and Highland Colori after landing the Ayr Gold Cup in 2013 (Focusonracing)

4.50 Ayr: Tiritomba

Ayr racecourse is, to some extent, where it all began for Oisin Murphy, when as a wide-eyed 18-year-old he won the Ayr Gold Cup in 2013 aboard Highland Colori, one of four winners on the card that day. The photo of him blushing as he gets a kiss on the cheek on both sides as he holds the trophy is presumably one he has now seen enough times to last a lifetime.

It may be that Murphy hasn't ridden a winner at the course since that day. He is certainly winless here since at least 2016, but is understandably a very rare visitor.

However, his quest to retain his jockeys' championship title sees him fly north for three booked mounts and this looks the biggest banker of the trio.

Alarm bells would usually ring about a Royal Ascot-placed filly still searching for a first success and being sent all the way to Ayr in order to find a suitable race, particularly one trained by Hugo Palmer, who is enduring something of a character-building season after his many successes in the past couple of years.

But Palmer's form isn't all that bad (a winner at Chelmsford on Saturday evening helped) and Tiritomba looks perfectly straightforward in her races. If ridden positively, she should simply be too good for the rest.

5.15 Bath: Song Of The Isles

The weather forecast for Bath says there is a strong chance of overnight rain and the prospect of at least some further rainfall during the day, so it's fair to assume that conditions will be on the soft side.

Medieval likes a bit of give and this turning track might help to keep him interested, but he has a bit of a lifelong aversion to actually winning races, which is enough to put me off despite this representing an easier task than many he has faced of late.

The likes of Production and Mr Tyrell would want better conditions, and while Secret Art is becoming alarmingly well-handicapped, there haven't been many signs that a revival in form is imminent.

The real dark one is Mister Parma, who has returned to Ian Williams after five years with Satish Seemar in Dubai. It really is total guesswork as to what he might be able to achieve. His recent form has been pretty diabolical. But if anyone can get him singing again, it's the ever-under-rated Williams, a master trainer on the Flat and over jumps, for whose horses money in the betting market is rarely misplaced.

However, the safest bet (and probably the likeliest winner on paper) looks to be Song Of The Isles. A late developer, she is probably still progressing, and was a bit unfortunate to lose her pitch in mid-race at Salisbury on Friday before running on again late on.

She seemed to be finishing with something still left in the tank there, so it's not a big surprise to see her back in action again here so quickly and soft ground evidently holds no fears. There's plenty to like about her prospects.

5.25 Ayr: Boston George

At this time last year, this horse was in action at the Ebor meeting, finishing three lengths sixth in a typically hot handicap.

Things clearly haven't always gone to plan with him and his three-year-old season ended without a win on the board, but he looks the type who will still have his day as an older horse, particularly now gelded and getting some assistance from the handicapper.

I wouldn't go so strongly as to describe his latest sixth at Thirsk as eyecatching. He was last turning for home and made some steady headway to pick off a few backpedalling rivals without quite looking like he was a winner waiting to happen in the immediate future.

But his stable are in better form now than was the case then and if he can get out the gates a bit quicker, I would have thought an ordinary 0-80 such as this is definitely within his capabilities.

Among his rivals, Star Shield has carried my cash at least half a dozen times since he last won a race, but I've lost confidence in his attitude. Being unable to walk away is a bad habit in punting and Boston George has far fewer convictions to his name, so I'd much rather give him the benefit of the doubt now.

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