Neil McKnight saddles Master Ruffit to Ayr glory

Trainer Martin Todhunter's Landmeafortune was an all-the-way success in the three-mile handicap chase at Ayr. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Trainer Martin Todhunter's Landmeafortune was an all-the-way success in the three-mile handicap chase at Ayr. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
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Trainer Neil McKnight saddled Master Ruffit to win the feature race at Ayr Racecourse yesterday – the Racing UK Day Pass Just £10 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase –almost a year to the day since his last win, which came at the same course.

The 16-1 chance, ridden by Brian Hughes led five furlongs from home in the two and a half mile chase and won convincingly from Freddie’s Portrait. Jubilant Northern Irishman McKnight revealed he could go for a quickfire double at the track today when he is due to run in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase.

McKnight said : “He’s struggled in a couple of beginners chases but it’s the first time he’s got his heavy ground and he clearly likes this course. I’ll see how he is in the morning but we could well run again tomorrow.”

Another horse who obviously likes the Ayrshire track is Landmeafortune who had an all the way success in the three-mile handicap chase for trainer Martin Todhunter and jockey Henry Brooke.

The lightly raced eight year-old made all and was returned at 13-2. He has now raced at Ayr four times and this was his first win but he has finished second twice and was fourth on his other runs at the track.

Hawick trainer Donald Whillans was on the scoresheet with Tomahawk Wood (9-1) in the Watch Racing UK in HD Handicap Hurdle. The horse raced prominently through out and, although he blundering three out ,stayed on well to records a three-length win from odds on favourite 
Fearless Tunes.

High flying Irish trainer Gordon Elliott teamed up with champion jockey Richard Johnson to land the two-mile mares’ handicap hurdle with Whizzey Rascal, the 13-8 favourite.

Elliott has two interesting runners at Ayr this afternoon with King’s Bandit in the two mile novices’ chase and Canova in the two-mile handicap hurdle.

At Kempton today, Miracle Ninetynine looks a worthy player when he steps back up to a mile. The five-year-old gelding has had a rather nomadic career thus far, having previously been in the care of Richard Hannon and Irish trainer John James Feane.

He is now under the capable guidance of Ed Vaughan, for whom he came quite close to making a dream debut at Chelmsford on 5 January.

The gelded son of Big Bad Bob was clearly not fancied in a decent enough seven-furlong handicap, yet he hugely outran odds of 25-1 to finish third behind Hakam.

Indeed, he would probably have got much closer to the winner on that occasion had his path not been significantly blocked inside the final 
furlong. But, once daylight did appear, the manner in which Miracle Ninetynine finished off his race under Tom Marquand tends to suggest the return to a mile for the Matchbook Exchange-sponsored handicap could be just the ticket.

Vaughan’s new recruit, an impressive winner at Dundalk in November, is no handicap snip, but he showed at Chelmsford that he is capable of doing some damage off his current mark. It is also pleasing that Marquand is back in the saddle.

Wedgewood Estates could be available at a fair old price in the opening six-furlong handicap. This does not look a strong race, yet Tony Carroll’s mare might not necessarily be an obvious shout on her first run for 112 days. Be that as it may, Wedgewood Estates was an easy winner at Yarmouth in June and flickered with a little bit of intent at Wolverhampton in September.

The daughter of Assertive finished fifth of 12 runners, but that effort perhaps deserves to be bumped up a shade if the fact she encountered traffic problems late on is factored into the equation.

Carroll fields three runners in this race, yet the David Probert-ridden Wedgewood Estates could well be the one as she attempts to cash in on a fair handicap mark.