Saturday’s Big Race Previews

The big horse racing action moves to Ayr on Saturday with the annual running of the cavalry charge known as the Ayr Gold Cup. The racing may not have the same class of horses running as last Saturday but it looks very competitive with plenty of big field handicap puzzles for punters to solve. Hopefully I will be able to point you in the right direction of winner finding with my key stats for Saturday’s action.

The horse racing on terrestrial isn’t on Channel 4 this Saturday but has moved over to More 4 for the day with that channel covering four races from the Scottish track but all the Ayr action can be found on Racing UK if you are a subscriber of that dedicated horse racing channel. Besides, Ayr there are decent supporting cards at Newbury, with More 4 showing four races from that meeting, and Newmarket. Both those cards are also live on Racing UK so I won’t be channel hopping this Saturday!

Looks like summer has finally left us, after a very hot few days, with cooler fresher weather now, across all parts of the country. September can be a tricky month for punters with the going changing quickly and an extreme example of that occurred at Newbury on Friday morning when the declared going of good to firm was changed to heavy after half a months rain fell in a few hours in the south east of England in the early hours of Friday. The 48 hour declarations will be severely tested at Newbury on Saturday as all the runners were declared on quick going. There could be plenty of none runners there

Not sure how the rain has affected Newmarket which was also due to race on good to firm going. Looks like punters will need to keep an eagle eye on the weather forecasts on Saturday morning if they want a profitable days betting. Ironically Ayr which started its three day meeting on Thursday on soft ground is likely to race on better ground than Newbury on Saturday. In fact as I write this looking at the forecast for Ayr it looks like it will be mainly dry on Friday and Saturday. Let’s hope that forecast is correct!

That’s it the stage is set for some great horse racing and like last week this preview will be a mixture of form analysis and some notable stats that you won’t find anywhere else that will be going under the radar for most punters.

I will start with a look at Ayr card:

AYR 17th September 2016

 It’s a bumper eight race card on William Hill Day, with the leading bookmaker sponsoring five of the day’s big races at the track. It’s an early start with racing getting underway at 1:25. The big one the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup goes off at 3:45. There has been a change in the going on Friday from soft to good to soft, soft in places. If the dry weather continues then the ground should be nearer good than soft on the big day!


The card gets underway with a Class 2 Nursery Handicap with 11 juveniles declared to go to post for the race which will be run over a mile. Five of the last 10 renewals of the race have being won by Richard Fahey (3 wins, including last year) and Kevin Ryan (two wins). The latter doesn’t have any runners in this year’s race but Richard Fahey has two in Temerity and last time out Beverley winner Melesina

Notable Stats


Karl Burke – Third OrderIs 7 wins from 26 runners 27% +5.43 A/E 1.66 9 places 34% with his two year olds at Ayr in the past 5 years and he also has his horses running well being – 5/24 21% +14.50 A/E 1.68 in handicaps in the past 14 days.

Michael Dods Davy’s Dilemma – Had a couple that looked like winning here on Thursday and he has his runners in goof form at present being 5 wins from 24 runners 21% +5.00 A/E 1.39 12 places 50% +14.20 in handicaps in the last 14 days.

Iain JardineNow Children Is a trainer whose horses always need watching, in particular his last time out winners. In the past 2 years he is – 18 wins from 53 runners 34% +24.26 A/E 1.42 27 places 51% with all his runners that had won last time out.

Form Verdict:

A tricky little nursery despite the small field. Richard Fahey whose good record in the race I highlighted above sets a bit of a poser with his two runners. My preference of his pair is for the filly Temerity who won her maiden on soft ground here at Ayr in July, handling the going better than her rivals that day, Was a slight disappointment when only 2nd on her nursery debut on the tapeta at Newcastle but if we forgive her that slightly below par effort last time and judge here on her Ayr win she would have a major chance when she looked a filly with plenty of progression in her. Adam McNamara takes off 5lb which is a bonus for the filly’s chance too. Trainer Keith Dalgleish saddles two in Euro Nightmare and Whatsthemessage. The latter won her maiden here over 7f 40 days ago. That was a racecourse debut and she had too overcome a bit of trouble in winning that day. A mark of 76 looks workable and the win came on good to soft so underfoot conditions shouldn’t hold to many terrors for her and she should progress further with racing and the step up to a mile. Third Order hails from the Karl Burke yard and given the trainers record in two year old races at the course his colt has to be respected. A winner over a mile on good to soft at Beverley 20 days ago and he has each way claims of his mark of 75 with his stamina guaranteed . Davey’s Dilemma comes here on the back of a win in a 7f Redcar maiden last month, again on good to soft. Underfoot condition will be fine and he is another with each way claims but others do look capable of more improvement. One of those capable of more progress is the Iain Jardine runner Now Children who has top weight here with 9-7. the colt showed the benefit of his racecourse debut when winning his maiden 22 days ago at Hamilton. That win cam on good ground but was overran extended mile so he is another who wont lack for stamina today. Form of the race looks fairly solid with two horses finishing behind that day going onto win their next races, including one of today’s rivals Whatsthemessage who gets a 9lb pull in the weights for a 3 ½ length beating.



The only Group race to be run in Scotland with a field of 13 juvenile fillies set to go to post for the winners prize of £36,862. Plenty of the big southern stables with runners in the race including Sir Michael Stoute, Simon Crisford and Ralph Beckett, who saddles likely favourite Bletchley. There are also a couple of runners coming over from Ireland. Trainers Anne Duffield and Bryan Smart have won this race twice in the past ten years. The former doesn’t have any runners in this year’s race but Bryan Smart saddles Thirsk maiden winner Delectation who looks one of the outsiders.

Notable Stats:


Simon Crisford – ShamsayaHas his runners in winning form being – 5 wins from 14 runners 36% +13.36 A/E 1.95 8 places 57% +18.31 in the past 14 days and is having his first runner at the track.

Race Trends

Not the greatest of races for short priced runners with 6 of the last 8 winners going off with an SP between 12/1 & 33/1 from 46 runners with those starting 11/1 & under are 2/39.

A recent run is helpful with all the last 8 winners running within the last 30 days.

Six of the last 8 winners of the race had finished first or second on their last start.

Form Verdict:

Ralph Beckett’s Bletchley comes into the race with the best form having finished a short head 2nd in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. Disappointed when last seen in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton at Newmarket in July when the 9/4 favourite. The quick ground was said to have been against her that day and she looks worth another chance on this easier surface. That was 71 days ago but the filly can run well enough after a break having won first time up in June. Partitia hails from the Sir Micheal Stoute stable. A winner of a Newbury maiden on her 2nd start she followed that up with a win in a conditions race at Chester 28 days ago. Pat Smullen takes the ride so she has to have a chance given her powerful connections but after that Chester win her jockey felt that she is better filly on quick ground. Given the prices of some of the recent winners of this race and the fact that she is trained by Bryan Smart you couldn’t rule out a big run from his Delectation. The one raced filly showed a nice turn of foot to land a Thirsk maiden 39 days ago on her racecourse debut. Likely to come on well for that run and after her win that day her trainer nominated this race as her next run. Given his record in the race that should be heeded and although easy ground is a bit of an unknown she has decent frame claims at big odds. Simon Crisford has his first runner at Ayr and his representative Shamsaya who was an easy winner of a Salisbury nursery 8 days ago on easy ground. She showed a good turn of foot to win that race and is clearly a filly in good form and can also go well at a decent price. At the prices I would much prefer the chances of the latter two horses compared to the market leaders.



The consolation race for the Gold Cup and I think the race looks a tougher puzzle than the big one. A maximum field of 25 are declared to go to post and on the evidence of the big sprints run on the first two days of the meeting a low to middle draw looks the favoured place to be. Trainer Richard Fahey has won this race three times in the past 10 years and had the first and second in last years race. This year he saddles three in George Bowen, Stamp Hill and Nuno Tristan all of them have to be respected given the trainers record in the race.


Saeed bin Suroor – Kickboxer (23) – Has had a terrible season having being badly hit by the virus that has hit Newmarket this summer but there are signs that his horses maybe coming back to their best. He is 2/4 50% +6.75 at Ayr in the past 5 years, had a winner here on Thursday, and is 5/22 23% +2.05 in the past 14 days with all his runners. He is also a trainer who can bring his horses back to win after a 60 day + break. In the past 2 years he is – 40/153 26% +35.20 A/E 1.08 79 places 52% with all his runners returning from a 60 days + absence.

Horses for Courses:

Intisaab (David O’Meara) – 2/2 at Ayr

Louis The Pious (David O’Meara) – 1/3 2 places at Ayr

Form Verdict:

Given the nature of the race there are plenty in with a chance in this tight handicap. The nicely handicapped George Bowen (Stall 16) looks the best of the three Fahey runners. The four year old was only beaten a head in this race last year and is now 4lb lower in the weights this time around. Ran better than his final position of 8th suggests at the Curragh last weekend. A good case can be made for the four David O’Meara four. Intisaab (Stall 13) is 2/2 at the course and was second in the Curragh race that George Bowen ran in. Eccleston (Stall 5) could be the value of his four though. He was a staying on 6th in this race last year off a 5lb higher mark and now races of his last winning mark. The five year old is back to a winnable mark and as there is some ease in the ground I can see him outrunning his odds. Shaped well from an unfavourable draw when 4th at Thirsk 22 days ago and is drawn low. Shipyard (Stall 4) is another horse on a winnable mark and looks interesting in the first time visor. Trainer Michael Appleby has been quite in the past month or so but had a good winner at Pontefract on Thursday. A reproduction of his 1 length 2nd at Haydock behind the useful Mehronissa back in May would see the seven year old go close on his favoured easy ground.. Kickboxer ( Stall 23) is a horse with plenty of ability and the 5 year old went into the notebook when 5th on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury but ran poorly on his next start at Windsor returns from an 84 day break but as the above stats show his trainer is capable of bringing one back after an absence. Stall 23 might not be a positive unless a sizeable group of horses come down the stands side. His trainer said that at the start of the season that the horse would be targeted at this meeting and a bit of ease in the ground would be of benefit to the gelding. If the cards fall right there is a decent pot in him of this sort of mark.


A Class 2 Handicap over 1m with 14 declared to go to post. Despite the number of runners it’s still a very competitive race and seven of the field have winning form at the track which shows how tough this race is to find the winner. Richard Fahey and Michael Dods have both won this race twice in the past 10 years and both trainers have runners in the race.


Roger Varian – MorandoIs 2/5 40% at Ayr in the past 5 years and his horses are going a lot better now being 9/32 28% +19.93 in the past 14 days

Andrew Balding – Highland ColoriBefore racing on Friday, the trainer was 4/13 31% +18.12 A/E 1.69 6 places 46% +20.30 with his runners at the course in the past 5 years.

Form Verdict: Given the competitive nature of this race it’s not one to go into heavily. The Varian trained three year old Morando is the early bird favourite for the race and is seeking a hatrick after his win in a Chester handicap back in June. Returns from a 98 day break here and the colt who looked very progressive horse when last seen. Up 10lb for that Chester win but he could well rate higher than this present mark of 96. Major favourites chance here. Richard Fahey saddles both Garcia and Another Touch. The former also looked a progressive three year old when winning a valuable handicap at Haydock back in May. This is his first run since disappointing in the Brittania Handicap at Royal Ascot but a better run can be expected from the gelding in this. Another Touch won the nursery over C&D at this meeting last year and looks like he has been aimed at this race. The three year old has only had five starts this season winning at Newmarket two starts back and wasn’t disgraced when 5th in a decent handicap at the Ebor meeting when racing from an unfavourable draw in 19. If Morando is at his best he will be tough nut to crack but Innocent Touch looks capable of reaching the places.


3:45 – WILLIAM HILL AYR GOLD CUP (Heritage Handicap) (CLASS 2)

A maximum field of 25 are declared to go to post for the big betting race of the day with £124,500 on offer to the winner. Trainer’s Dandy Nicholls and Kevin Ryan have had 2 and 3 winners respectably in this race in the past 10 years and both have runners in this years renewal. Richard Fahey won the race last year and runs the well fancied Growl. Nine last 10 winners of the race started 20/1 or less, so despite the field size it’s not been a race for a big priced outsider.

Race Trends:

Here are few of the key trends for race. Looking at the last 10 years:

10/10 winners had run at least 4 times that season
10/10 winners had won over at least 6f
9/10 winners of the race were officially rated 97-105
9/10 winners had run in the last 35 days
9/10 winners had not run in pattern race on their last start
7/10 winners posted a Racing Post Rating of 100+ on their last start


Andrew Balding – Absolutely So (Stall 14)Before racing on Friday, the trainer was 4/13 31% +18.12 A/E 1.69 6 places 46% +20.30 with his runners at the course in the past 5 years.

Adrian Keatley – G Force (Stall 11) Is 14/41 34% +44.88 A/E 1.63 23 places 56% +55.81 with his runners in handicaps in the past 5 years.

Trainers in Form:

Robyn Brisland – Magnus Maximus (Stall 21)Is 3/12 25% +22.50 with all his runners in the past 14 days and is 6/21 A/E 2.00 12 places 57% +39.25 in 5f to 7f handicaps this season.

Form Verdict:

Growl looked a shade unlucky when a fast finishing 4th from a high draw in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood on his last start. The four year old has the profile of an improving sprinter is ground versatile and looks sure to go well from his low draw in 6. G Force from the Adrian Keatley yard had wind operation after running down the field in the Stewards Cup Goodwood and shaped well when staying on into 3rd at Navan 14 days ago. The five year old is said have sparkled in his recent work and has been well backed on Friday afternoon. Comes into the race a well handicapped horse on his best past form which included winning the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup in September 2014 for previous trainer David O’Meara major chance here if the trainer has him right. Magnus Maximus will appreciate the drying ground and the five year old was a decisive winner on his last start at Ascot. Despite his age looks to be improving and if his high draw isn’t an inconvenience then he has every chance of winning this race. Another classy sort who drops into handicap company today is Aeolus from the Ed Walker stable. Suited by genuinely good ground or a bit of ease, the five year old was beaten less than 4 lengths into 4th behind The Tin Man in a Group 3 at Newbury on his last start. Looks on a tough mark on 107 but the trainer has booked useful 5lb claimer Hector Crouch for the ride which puts him the picture from stall 19. Has each way claims here.



It doesn’t get any easier with this 1m 2f Class 2 handicap with 14 declared to go to post in this one.


Saeed bin Suroor – Flight OfficerHas had a terrible season having being badly hit by the virus that has hit Newmarket this summer but there are signs that his horses maybe coming back to their best. He is 2/4 50% +6.75 at Ayr in the past 5 years, had a winner here on Thursday, and is 5/22 23% +2.05 in the past 14 days with all his runners.

Horses for Courses: 

Speed Company – John Quinn – 1/1 at Ayr

Form Verdict:

You can never rule out a Richard Fahey runner and C&D winner Innocent Touch has to be respected here. John Quinn likes to have winners here at Ayr and he has booked top Irish Apprentice Killian Leonard to take off 5lb of his runner Speed Company. Godolphin have booked Pat Smullan for the ride and the lightly five year old remains capable of better and looks worth another chance.



The Western Meeting ends with a Class 3 handicap over 1m 5f with 17 declared to go to post. The bookies are going 6/1 the field which looks a bit skinny as this looks more of a 8/1 the field.


Adrian Keatley – Captain Carleton Is 14/41 34% +44.88 A/E 1.63 23 places 56% +55.81 with his runners in handicaps here in the past 5 years.

Horses for Courses:

Braes of Lochalsh – Is 2/6 5 places at Ayr
Wor Lass – Is 3/6 4 places at Ayr

Form Verdict:

The Brian Ellison trained Nietzsche looks set to go off favourite with Graham Gibbons booked for the ride but there may be better value down the betting in the Captain Carleton who probably failed to stay 2m at Tramore on his last start but on his previous run was staying on best of all over 1m 4f at the Galway Festival. Is 3lb higher in this race but the five year old has each way claims at a big price. The mare Wor Lass goes well here and her trainer Susan Corbett is 2/9 with all her runners in the past 14 days. The other I like at a price is the Jim Goldie trained Braes of Lochalsh. The five year old is another who goes well here and is only 2lb higher then when winning at Doncaster back in April. Another that can go well at an each way price.


Betting Advice:

2:00 – 1pt each way – Shamsaya @ 11/1 or better and 0.5pts each way Delectation @ 10/1 or better

2:35 – 0.5pts each way – Shipyard @ 14/1 or better and 0.5pts each way Eccleston @ 14/1 or better

3:10 – 0.5pts each way – Innocent Touch @ 8/1 or better

3:45 – 1pt each way – Magnus Maximus @ 11/1 or better and 1pt each way – G Force @ 12/1 or better 

5:30 – 0.5pts each way – Braes of Lochalsh @ 16/1 and 0.5pts each way – Captain Carleton @ 16/1

Some of you may decide to win only rather than each way on the above but for me it’s not a day for too much exposure.

That’s it for now I hope you have found this preview useful and it will hopefully pinpoint some nice priced winners. All that’s left is to wish the best of luck with all your Saturday bets.

John Burke

I have a MA in International Politics and having spent a number of years working in political campaigning but I eventually I realised that politics was not the world where I wanted to work I had been interested in horse racing since the late 1980s but in the early years I was merely just betting and watching racing like most people as a bit of fun and a hobby, then the hobby becomes a passion and that’s what happened to me with horse racing. I soon realised that to make money from my hobby I had to learn as much as I could about the sport and betting in general. The whole process took time but after a number of successful years of betting, I decided in 2011 to take the plunge, gave up my full time day job and decided to bet on horse racing as a part time business and I haven’t looked back since. I like to specialise in the better class of races and I love to solve the puzzles posed by big field handicaps the latter races often provide punters with great value betting opportunities. Whilst most of my time is spent reviewing previous races I like to keep things as simple as possible as even the biggest field handicaps can usually be pruned down to half a dozen strong contenders with the right sort of approach.
Back to top button