Ayr Gold Cup meeting: Hawkethenoo has Ayr victory in sights
THE horse with one of the catchiest names in training, Hawkeyethenoo, is set to make a brave bid to be a rare Scottish-trained winner of the £120,000 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup this afternoon.
Trainer Jim Goldie openly admits that he has trained the horse for the race, and his brilliant victory in the Blue Square Bet Stewards Cup at Goodwood last month was possibly just a bonus for the son of Hawk Wing, or at least that’s how Goldie will see it if he achieves his lifetime ambition of lifting Scotland’s premier racing trophy.
It’s a huge task for Hawkeyethenoo to be the first Scottish-trained winner since Nigel Angus’s Roman Warrior in 1975, as he has only ever won one race on ground softer than good, and that was two years ago.
The Craigie course recovered well from its complete drenching on Thursday and was able to stage racing yesterday. The ground was officially heavy, but the jockeys were adamant that it was safe ground and forecast sunny spells today could see the conditions improve.
Even if Hawkeyethenoo handles the ground, he could have problems with the draw. High numbers are often favoured in the Gold Cup but Hawkeyethenoo races from stall three.
There will be clues to any potential draw bias in the first three races to be run at Ayr. The two consolation races for horses who did not make it into the Gold Cup, the William Hill Bronze and Silver Cups, followed by the Group Three Laundry Cottage Stud Firth of Clyde Stakes, are all run over six furlongs, so it will be the best policy to wait until after these races to make your choice for Europe’s richest sprint
Yesterday’s sprints did not provide clinching evidence of any real bias, though the victory from stall four of Jamaican Bolt in the Hunstwood Handicap over five furlongs suggested that low numbers may be favoured.
Reflecting on Thursday’s draw, where trainers got to choose the stall for their horses after their names were drawn by former Scotland manager Alex McLeish, Goldie was quite pleased with the outcome even though Hawkeyethenoo’s name was last out of the hat and he had to settle for stall three.
It is often said that the pace of the race is the real determining factor in winning the Gold Cup, and those horses who have fast starts in them include the veteran in stall one, Robin Bastiman’s Borderlescott. He was in the van in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood, and the quick pace set up the race for Hawkeyethenoo to swoop late under Graham Lee, who partners him again today.
“In some ways I am quite pleased I was last out because then it wasn’t my decision,” said Goldie. “With the limited amount of high numbers all taken early, the choice then was to go low, so when Borderlescott came out in stall one, I was hoping I would get three because he is an obvious pace setter. Borderlescott will go forward and he led the Stewards Cup a good gallop, so hopefully he’ll do the same again with the same result.”
The draw might end up not making “a halfpennyworth of difference,” according to Goldie. He explained: “A lot will depend on where and how much the ground gets worn. The first three races will show that.”
Hawekeyethenoo’s odds have drifted to 12s or 14s due to his preference for better ground, but plenty money came for the six-year-old before the downpour. Goldie said: “The rain has probably made it harder but William Hill seem to want to take money off folk and have done so at 10-1, but I feel he should be 20-1 in that ground.
“He did run very well in very bad ground in the July Cup this year, so he’s possibly a bit stronger than he was. He is an improving horse and possibly a Group horse but there will be more than him who are possible Group horses in the race.”
Cheviot is the other Scottish-trained horse in the race, and Ian Semple has secured the services of jockey Robert Winston for this live outsider.
Others to watch out for include last year’s winner Our Jonathan who has the same weight and stall as last year.
“He’s in good form,” said trainer Kevin Ryan after he chose last year’s “lucky” stall 12 again, “and the handicapper has been fair to him.”
Stable companion Pintura is quietly fancied even though it is three years since he last won over six furlongs, but neither of David Nicholls’s pair, Beacon Lodge and Rodrigo de Torres, looks up to the trainer’s usual standard of entrant for this race.
• Some bookmakers believe this year’s jockeys’ title race is as good as over after paying out on Richard Hughes being crowned champion for the first time in his career.
Hughes enjoyed a fantastic six-timer on Wednesday and another couple of winners on Thursday took him to 138 for the season, 16 clear of nearest pursuer Ryan Moore, who remains sidelined by injury.
The jockey rode a double at Newbury, partnering Rule Book (7-1) and Wentworth (8-11) to victory for boss Richard Hannon, and both Victor Chandler and Paddy Power believe his lead is now unassailable. The Flat turf season officially comes to an end at Doncaster on 10 November.
Martin Hannan’s 1-2-3-4
3. Our Jonathan
4. Colonel Mak
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
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