Seven-race card to kick off 2015 at Ayr

AYR Racecourse stages its New Year Raceday today with a total of 68 horses declared for the seven-race card.

Nicky Richards: High hopes. Picture: Getty
Nicky Richards: High hopes. Picture: Getty

The feature race is The Best Odds Guaranteed At Handicap Hurdle at 3.10pm which has nine runners going to post, including the Nicky Richards-trained, Brian Harding-ridden Cultram Abbey, who won a similar race at Carlisle back in October.

Mijhaar has not kicked on as might have been expected after a taking display at Doncaster in November 2013, but he should still take some beating. The former Flat Listed scorer is in decent enough form, too, with a close third at Aintree behind the well-regarded Dawalan an especially noteworthy effort.

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Lucinda Russell also has an interesting runner in Saphir River, the mount of Grant Cockburn.

The biggest field of the day is in the opening race, the Maiden Hurdle, at 12.30pm which has 14 runners with the Donald McCain-trained Three Faces West, a point-to-point winner in Ireland, making his debut under rules in this country.

Sir Vinski is also tipped to go close. Trained in Cumbria by Richards, things did not quite go to plan on his hurdling debut at Newcastle in November.

Sent off an odds-on chance on the back of a fine bumper success in March, Sir Vinski looked very naive from pillar to post and was unable to justify his short price. That said, the six-year-old chestnut was far from disgraced when he claimed third spot behind Kingfisher Creek and Island Confusion.

The final race, the national hunt flat race due off at 3.45pm, features Another Bill, winner of his only start also in a bumper at Ayr in November. From the Richards stable, this should take all the beating. Gates open at 11am and a large crowd is expected.

At Wolverhampton, Rowlestone Lass, who has been in fine heart of late, can keep up the good work in the 32Red Handicap. The daughter of Hernando doubtless has ability but she has struck gold just twice in 20 starts as she is perhaps not totally straightforward.

A run of six second places through the summer admirably demonstrates this point but trainer Richard Price finally seems to have been able to unlock her winning potential on the Tapeta this winter.

A six-length victory in October showed just what she is capable of but Rowlestone Lass again ducked out of a battle next time when held in third stepped up to two miles.

Pretty Bubbles relishes the Fibresand surface at Southwell and should be on the premises again in the Ladbrokes Handicap. She counts two wins and two thirds in her four trips to the Nottinghamshire venue, most recently finishing a slightly unlucky third behind Patriotic in December. John Jenkins’ runner stays on a mark of 79 and is worth supporting.

Deuce Again boasts a beautiful pedigree as a daughter of Dubai from the family of Group One-winning stayer San Sebastian among others. However, she could not find the winning post in two three-year-old starts last summer, finishing fifth and then third at Newbury in June and July.

Those runs came over ten furlongs and given her breeding, she looks the type to improve for a trip so this edge up to a mile and three furlongs could prove a shrewd move from John Gosden, even taking into account her lengthy break.