Ryan retains golden touch
The king of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup is still David Nicholls, trainer of the winner in six of the last 13 runnings of Scotland’s top Flat race, but the crown is lying uneasy upon the balding pate of the man they call Dandy.
For yesterday his fellow Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan gained his third Gold Cup in the space of six years when Captain Ramius sluiced up through the rain-softened ground to win the £60,000 first prize.
Following Advanced in 2007 and Our Jonathan last year, Captain Ramius is proof that Ryan has the Gold Cup sussed, and perhaps significantly, Nicholls did not have his usual mob-handed tilt at the race.
The son of Kheleyf, who also sired the winner of the earlier consolation William Hill Silver Cup, did it all very comfortably with Pat Smullen enjoying a steering job in only his second visit to Ayr. Captain Ramius, the property of Irish stud owner Mrs Clodagh McStay, moved leftward from the stalls to occupy the middle ground and went clear just outside the final furlong to win as he pleased at 16-1.
In truth, once Smullen pressed the accelerator, nothing else got in a blow as Captain Ramius passed long-time leader Sholaan, who eventually finished fourth, and came home a cosy couple of lengths clear of former winner Regal Parade, who in turn was ahead of 8-1 favourite and top weight Maarek in third. The sponsors paid place money on fifth and Colonel Mak took that honour.
Scotland’s chief hope, Hawkeyethenoo, ridden by Graham Lee and trained by Jim Goldie, trailed in 13th ahead of last year’s winner Our Jonathan and clearly detested the heavy ground. Nicholls’ pair of Beacon Lodge and Rodrigo De Torres finished 23rd and 25th respectively.
It was all about Captain Ramius, however, who proved best of Ryan’s quartet in front of the usually large and colourful crowd on Gold Cup day.
As always with Scotland’s most prestigious Flat race, the media tried to find a Scottish connection, but with an Irish owner, trainer and jockey and the horse being trained in Hambleton in Yorkshire, there was no way to put “a kilt” on this victory. The only tenuous Scottish link will be known by film buffs, as Captain Ramius was the Soviet submarine commander played by Sir Sean Connery complete with Edinburgh accent in The Hunt for Red October.
Ryan said: “We start thinking about this race in January. When it comes off it’s great.
“This is the richest sprint handicap in Europe and I’m delighted to win it again.”
Smullen commented: “I just wanted to get a good position from what I thought was a bad draw, but he’s a very straightforward horse and he travelled very, very well.”
For the first time, the William Hill Silver and Bronze Cups were run on the same day as the Gold Cup itself, but the rehearsals did not provide much of a clue about the draw bias in the big race – there did not appear to be any.
Patriotic punters and “jolly” backers had better luck at the start of the day when Jim Goldie and Graham Lee teamed up to lift the William Hill Bronze Cup courtesy of 5-1 favourite Jack Dexter, who finished clear of 6-1 chance Cheveton with Best Trip (14-1) and 16-1 shot Roker Park the next two home.
The consolation race featured sprinters near the bottom of the handicap and the son of Goldie’s former stable star Orientor proved a chip off the old block by battling home. Goldie described the event as “a very emotional win” for the home bred three-year-old, and the trainer immediately nominated a possible target for 2013.
“He’s by Orientor,” said Goldie, “one of the best horses we’ve had, and it’s a dream that he might come back and go for the Gold Cup next year.”
The William Hill Silver Cup proved a thriller with 16-1 shot Mass Rally, trained by Michael Dods and ridden by Paul Mulrennan, just forcing its head home on the line to deny the well-backed 6-1 favourite Highland Colori. The winner’s stablemate Spinatrix took fourth at 14-1 behind 8-1 shot An Saighdiur.
Mulrennan gained his double aboard 7-2 shot Melody of Love, trained by Ann Duffield, in the Group 3 Laundry Cottage Stud Firth of Clyde Stakes for two-year-old fillies. Mary’s Daughter was second at 11-2, while favourite Royal Rascal faded badly to finish second from last.
Top Notch Tonto won the Sked Construction Nursery Handicap at 11-1, before the Listed William Hill Doonside Cup was won easily by odds-on favourite Opera Gal ridden by Jim Crowley and trained by Andrew Balding.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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