The horse racing calendar turns its attention north of the border on Saturday, September 18, when the latest edition of the Ayr Gold Cup will be contested over six furlongs.
Introduced in 1804, the Ayr Gold Cup is one of the most celebrated sprint handicaps of the UK racing season, evidenced by the long waiting list to be one of the 25 runners who will make the cut.
That’s reduced from a field of 200 applicants, and it won’t be until the week of the race that spectators discover who will make up the final field.
Former winning jockeys and trainers alike are back among the field chasing more Ayr Gold Cup glory, including four-time winner Kevin Ryan, who’s back and hoping to train another victor in 2021.
Great Ambassador (8/1)
We’ve witnessed Great Ambassador winning in wet conditions in the past, which may be part of the appeal in backing a favourite likely to see softer, slower turf in Ayrshire.
In four races since moving to Ed Walker’s stable in March this year, Great Ambassador has already doubled the number of winners (two) that she had in twice as many races with her previous trainer.
The most recent of those was a first-place finish in the Download the MansionBet App Handicap at Newmarket in August, where he benefited from a superb ride courtesy of Richard Kingscote:
That was the second time in as many outings that the four-year-old has won with Kingscote aboard, making theirs a partnership Walker will want to retain in Scotland.
There are question marks aplenty over the quality of Boosala, whose Ayrshire expedition could go one of two ways given this will be the horse’s first competition since December.
It was clear early on that owner Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum had an extremely promising asset on his hands, starting his career with wins at Windsor and York:
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) June 17, 2019
More than two years on from his debut and Boosala has only had three races, but that potential will have only been enhanced by the acute eye of trainer William Haggas, who won this race last year with Nahaarr.
There’s a reason why this horse was once given a 95 rating, and there’s sure to be anticipation regarding how his form responds having been gelded in July of this year.
Commanche Falls (12/1)
Based in County Durham, trainer Michael Dods has a slight home advantage over others in the field when it comes to familiarity with the conditions and the task awaiting in Ayr.
Those alone could prove the keys to victory in this Gold Cup, but it certainly helps to have a talent like Commanche Falls, who has won seven of his 15 races with Connor Beasley aboard.
That includes the narrowest of victories over Gulliver in the 2021 Stewards’ Cup, where he thundered in to collect from 10/1 odds, a similar price to his listing for the Ayr Gold Cup:
COMMANCHE FALLS takes the 2021 Stewards' Cup in a bunched finish for trainer Michael Dods and jockey Connor Beasley!!!!
— The Winners Enclosure (@TWEnclosure) July 31, 2021
It’s also worth highlighting Commanche Falls has already won once at Ayr this year, winning the William Hill Extra Places Every Day Handicap ahead of Bielsa, who will also be among the challengers here.
2021 Ayr Gold Cup – Odds Leaders