The Ayr Gold Cup Festival, also known as the Western meeting, has been held at Ayr since 1804 (at a different course), and is of great historical importance. It’s a major draw for local racing fans who fill the course year after year, enjoying every moment of one of the best events of the year and a full field is pretty much assured for the Ayr Gold Cup 2021 itself on the Saturday afternoon. The race has become so popular with trainers and owners that the course management – in association with the racing authorities – have been forced to add a Silver Cup and eventually a Bronze Cup as well, for all the horses who wanted to run in “the big one” but couldn’t get a place in the final line-up.
Run over six furlongs is it a real old-fashioned cavalry charge from start to finish, but naturally it is not the only race worthy of a mention from the three-day Festival. The supporting cards may be handicap dominated, but they also include novice stakes for two-year-olds, two Listed races on the Friday (one for juveniles, and one for three-year-olds) and a Listed and a Group Three on the Saturday.
The bars will be heaving, the on-course bookmakers attempting to cope with long queues of hopeful punters, and if the weather holds, a few pre and post-race picnics at the course as well. Enjoyment and socialising are the name of the game here, and if you can back a winner or two it makes the occasion that much sweeter.
There are not one but two sets of statistics to gather here, one for Ayr Gold Cup meeting, and another for the Ayr Gold Cup 2021 itself. In the last 10 years, looking at September meetings only to give us a more realistic clue, the trainer to follow appears to be Tim Easterby. Seventeen winners and a profit of over 43 points is not to be sniffed at, though it’s worth noting that Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott has only had two runners here in the last decade – both of them winners - and if he allows Caribeno to run in the 5.25pm on Saturday he looks one to at least consider.
Jockey Tom Eaves heads the profit stats for riders with a close to 10% strike rate and 44 points in the black, and he seems likely to be in action over the weekend, while James Doyle has a three from five record at the track and is another to look for if he heads north to the Ayr Gold Cup Festival. On to the Ayr Gold Cup next and some interesting facts are there for all to see. This time I am going to go back even further (my database covers 24 years), and in all that time, close to a quarter of a century, we have not seen a winner come out of the one three, or five stall which seems to tell a story. You may read elsewhere that a high draw is imperative, but that isn’t actually correct, with nine winners coming out of a single digit stall, and if a horse is good enough, he or she can win from almost any of them.
On to recent winners and Kevin Ryan has trained three of the last 10 winners which is a sparkling fact, while Andrew Balding has been responsible for two. No other trainer has been successful more than once in that period. Weights carried have ranged from 8-12 to 9-10 and the odds of the winner have been as low as 7/2f (Nahaarr last year) up to 28/1 (Angel Alexander in 2019), so as you can see, if you fancy a horse don’t worry too much about the price, with just the three winning favourites since 1996.
When it comes to betting at the Ayr Gold Cup meeting, the majority of races are highly competitive, and one winner may well cover your bets for all three days. We will have a look at three horses for you, each with chances, though we will need a bit of luck to strike on one of the most interesting weekend’s racing of the entire year.
If Newmarket trainer William Haggas decides to send his seven-year-old ADDEYBB north for this Listed race, then the hint really should be taken. He is that much better than his rivals that a defeat will take some explaining. He won this last year by three-quarters of a length from Lord Glitters and has only had the one start in the UK since winning over a million pounds for taking the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in Australia in April, when second to St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (Group One). This is far easier pickings for him. Defeat for Addeybb in this class would be a shock to all, and if you are looking for a banker come race day, he is the hardest to oppose by some margin.
If there is a trainer capable of bringing a horse back from a long break to win a highly competitive event, it’s William Haggas, who may well be in for a very rewarding afternoon. A relative youngster at the age of four, BOOSALA has a lack of experience to get past, having only seen the racetrack three times. But he won the first two, at Windsor and York as a two-year-old, and then having over 17 months off before a half-length third on the Wolverhampton all-weather when slowly away.
Gelded since and given time to recover, he may well be a Group class horse hiding in a handicap this afternoon, and as he stays further (he has won over seven furlongs), the excepted unsustainable early pace in a race like this may well play in to his hands, and I expect to see him finishing fast - assuming he can get a clear run.
Anyone who follows their racing carefully will be fully aware that the David O’Meara-trained juveniles often improve considerably on their first visit to a racecourse. That made it even more surprising when RISHES BAAR made a winning start to her career at odds of 28/1, implying that she may well have plenty of improvement to come. Slowly away that day and as green as grass throughout, the daughter of El Kabeir got the hang of things late on before flying home to catch and pass the leader for a neck success. She looks sure to come on in leaps and bounds for that education, and if that is the case, she could well give us a good run for our money at a big price, despite being thrown in at the deep end in this far better contest.
🚨 Vertiginous chinned— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 3, 2021
A winning debut from £55,000 purchase Rishes Baar (El Kabeir) who is well-related & stays on powerfully despite showing signs of greenness to make a winning debut for @omeararacing, Danny Tudhope & @ontoawinner7 @haydockraces pic.twitter.com/5d1CckOhpQ
DO your research – funnily enough just sticking a pin in the newspaper isn’t a sure fire way to find the winners.
DO give a second glance to horses in the care of in-form trainers – when a yard is going well, all things are possible.
DO try to balance risk and reward – small bets can pay big rewards but finding four winners is harder than finding one, so balance your own books and bet accordingly, singles or multiples, your decision.
DON’T worry about the price of your selection – horses don’t know their odds and there have been plenty of surprises in the past at the Ayr Gold Cup Festival and will be over the years ahead too.
DON’T just listen to others opinions, professionals or not – it’s not their money you are risking, it’s yours, and you need to be happy with your choice.
ITV4 are covering the 1.55pm, 2.30pm, 3.05pm, 3.40pm and the 4.15pm races on Saturday, afternoon but sadly the schedules mean the first two days will not be shown on terrestrial TV.
All races from Ayr will be available via Racing TV if you happen to subscribe, while most (if not all) bookmakers will allow you to watch them on-line via their websites though be warned, in some cases you will need to place a bet before they allow you to watch them live.
When is the Ayr Gold Cup meeting?
The three-day meeting starts on Thursday the 16th September and ends on Saturday the 18th September. Race times are 1.50pm to 5.18pm on Thursday, 1.00pm to 4.30pm on the Friday, and 1.20pm to 5.20pm on the Saturday, with a minimum of 22 races to sit back and enjoy.
Where is Ayr Racecourse?
If you are coming by car head to Whitletts Road in Ayr (postcode KA8 0JE) but do call in advance to see if there are and tickets left as they are invariably a sell-out and have limited numbers allowed thanks to covid restrictions.
What should I wear to wear to the Ayr races?
Smart but casual is the order of the day, though of course you can dress up as much or as little as you want to – it is a social occasion after all. No football shirts, and no ripped or torn denim allowed.
What time is the Ayr Gold Cup Race?
If you are only interested in the big race, the Ayr Gold Cup 2021, then you need to be all ready, bets placed, armchair comfortable and drinks poured by 3.40pm sharp on Saturday the 18th September – but why would you only be interested in the one race at such an intriguing meeting?