IF AT first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That was the philosophy of trainer David O’Meara and owner Frank Gillespie, who were joined by more than 11,000 spectators to watch their six-year-old gelding Louis The Pious gallop to a comfortable victory in yesterday’s William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
Louis The Pious finished a gallant second in the race last year, racing from a high draw, and after O’Meara and Gillespie decided to aim him at the Gold Cup again, once more the draw worked out well for the son of Holy Roman Emperor.
Notching a 769-1 treble on the day, winning jockey James Doyle admitted afterwards that he been on “a steering job” as Louis The Pious broke well from stall 19 and then took up the running over a furlong out, coursing on well to finish nearly three lengths clear of 33-1 shot Minalisa, who did superbly to get so close considering she was far away on the “slow” side of the track.
The next three home were all drawn high, 7-1 favourite Blaine finishing best of all in third, ahead of Heaven’s Guest and Fast Shot. All three were ridden by women jockeys, namely Amy Ryan, Sammy Jo Bell and Rachael Richardson – evidence that a female rider will surely win the Gold Cup one year.
Victorious jockey Doyle is another of the “try again” brigade. The son of former trainer Jacqui Doyle had a fine start to his riding career but became disillusioned when the winners and runners dried up and went off briefly to start a career as a plumber in 2010.
He returned in triumph, however, and is now the retained jockey for Khalid Abdullah, for whom he has formed a fine partnership with Sussex Stakes hero Kingman. His victory aboard Louis The Pious was gained on just his second visit to Ayr, which he reached yesterday only after a scare when the pilot of the private plane from Newmarket turned up late.
All was well when he reached Prestwick, however, and Doyle fairly flew home in the opening QTS Nursery Handicap aboard trainer Richard Hannon’s Power Play, the 6-1 shot finishing fast to pip Scottish trainer Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin. The William Hill Ayr Silver Cup proved the perfect rehearsal for Doyle, who kept to the stand-side rail from a high draw to bring home 9-1 Huntsman’s Close, trained by Doyle’s guv’nor Roger Charlton, a length clear of Mehdi.
O’Meara, who had his first Group One winner two weeks ago with G Force in the Betfred Sprint Cup, said: “He was drawn well again this year and he is a good horse.
“We put the visor on him because Fran Berry rode him the last day at Ascot and thought it might just help him a little bit, and he was right.
“He’s a horse with a lot of ability. Sometimes he can run an indifferent kind of race but on his day he’s very good, as we saw at Royal Ascot.
“These big-field handicaps bring the best out of him.”
Locally-born jockey Danny Tudhope made it a double for O’Meara on 7-2 favourite Earth Drummer in the Microtech Support Handicap, while the two “black type” races of the day saw Graham Lee score a notable double, springing a 25-1 surprise aboard Dark Reckoning in the Group 3 William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes before booting home Sky Hunter, easy winner of the Listed William Hill 80th Anniversary Book Launch Doonside Cup.