There’s plenty of Listed Races this week, including at Galway on Tuesday and Sandown and Yarmouth on Wednesday. The three-day Ayr Gold Cup Festival then starts on Thursday, whilst Newbury’s two-day Mill Reef Meeting starts on Friday. However, the highlight of the week is the Ayr Gold Cup Handicap on Saturday afternoon.
Galway (Tuesday 18 September)
Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes
The Oyster Stakes was established in 1997 and continues to be run over 1½ miles. It is open to fillies and mares aged three or older and has been won by the likes of Aliya, Yavana’s Pace, Missunited, and Zhukova. Dermot Weld has trained the last two winners of the race and relies on Romniya this year. However, she has a few pounds to find with the highest-rated filly Princess Yaiza.
Meanwhile, three-time winning trainer Aidan O’Brien looks set to be represented by Ballet Shoes. However, the most interesting runner could be Alwaysandforever for English trainer Luca Cumani. No English trained horse has won the race since Mark Johnston won the 1998 renewal with Yavana’a Pace, but Cumani’s four-year-old is only rated three-pounds below Princess Yaiza.
Sandown (Wednesday 19 September)
Smarkets Fortune Stakes
The Fortune Stakes was originally called the Glint Of Gold Stakes and was first run at Kempton Park in 1988. It has since been held at both Epsom and Haydock, but has been run at Sandown since 2009. It takes place over a mile and is open to horses aged three and older. Since being staged at Sandown it has been won by the likes of Bankable, Penitent, Elm Park, and Khafoo Shemimi.
Three-year-olds have won the last three renewals, and five of the last seven, statistics that must mean the Owen Burrows trained Wadislafa must have an outstanding chance, as he’s rated 11lb and upwards superior to the other three-year-old entries. However, he only has a bit in hand of older horses like Hathal and Zhui Feng.
Yarmouth (Wednesday 19 September)
EBF Stallions John Musker Fillies’ Stakes
The John Musker Filles’ Stakes is a Listed Race open to fillies and mares aged three and older. It is run over 10 furlongs and 29 yards. The race was first run in 1993, with its most famous winner probably being So Mi Dar, who was trained by three-time winning trainer John Gosden. Gosden could be represented by the lightly-raced Scottish Jig this year, and three-year-olds have won seven of the last 10 renewals.
However, she is rated 19lb below her fellow three-year-old Winter Lightning, for whom the in-form Oisin Murphy is a positive booking. She gets 8lb from the top-rated Chain Of Daisies, who was very impressive when winning her second her second Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury last time out. Another three-year-old Rasima also deserves a mention as, though she has a bit to find with the principals, her trainer Roger Varian has trained two of the last four winners.
Ayr (Thursday 20 September)
William Hill Doonside Cup Stakes
The Doonside Cup is the highlight of the opening day of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival. It is a Listed Race that takes place over 10 furlongs and it is open to horses aged three and older. It was first run in 1988 and recent editions have been won by the likes of Sennokian Star, Scottish, and Secret Number. The race’s most successful trainer is Saeed Big Suroor who has trained five of the last thirteen winners. He could be represented by Dubai Horizon this year, a horse that arrives here on a hat-trick after winning his last two starts in handicaps, and is already a course and distance winner. He’s only the third highest-rated horse amongst the entries though, with Air Pilot rated seven pounds higher and Morando four pounds higher. Morando is especially interesting as his trainer Andrew Balding has trained two of the last five winners.
Ayr (Friday 21 September)
Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies’ Sprint Stakes
The Arran Scottish Fillies Stakes is a Listed Race run over 5 furlongs and 110 yards and is open to fillies and mares aged three and older. It was only introduced at the Ayr Gold Cup Festival last season, though the race was actually abandoned and run at a later date at Musselburgh. The race was won by Mabs Cross and her trainer Michael Dods could be represented by Queens Gift. She has around a stone to find with some of her possible opponents though including Main Desire, Fashion Queen, Magical Dreamer, Perfect Angel and Darkanna.
Newbury (Friday 21 September)
Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes
The Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes is a Listed Race for horses aged three and older run over seven furlongs. The 2017 renewal was won by the decent four-year-old Tabarrak, but three-year-olds have by far the best record in the race, and Aclaim won the 2017 renewal. This year’s early entries have some useful older horses amongst them including Mjjack, who was an impressive winner last time, as well as course and distance winner Mankib.
Meanwhile Raydiance and Red Mist are two three-year-olds that could yet take higher-rank. However, the horse that catches the eye is Nebo, with the Charlie Hills trained three-year-old having won on two of his three previous visits to Newbury, and being third in the other. Ryan Moore has been pencilled into take the ride.
Newbury (Saturday 22 September)
Mill Reef Stakes
The Mill Reef Stakes is a Group 2 Race for two-year-olds run over six furlongs. It was established in 1972 and notable recent winners include Dark Angel, Ribchester, and Harry Angel. This year’s renewal doesn’t look the strongest on paper, but Aidan O’Brien could try and win his first Mill Reef with either Sergei Prokofiev or Landscape. Twice winning trainer mark Johnston also looks to have a strong hand with Main Edition and Marie’s Diamond.
Ayr (Saturday 22 September)
William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes
The Firth Of Clyde Stakes is a Group 3 Race for two-year-old fillies that takes place over six furlongs. It was first run in 1984, with its most notable winner being the subsequent Group 1 winning sprinter Airwave. This year’s race is unlikely to produce such a good winner, but there are five fillies already rated 100+ in the entries.
The top-rated filly is Shumook, whilst Firelight, and Queen Of Bermuda have good chances on the book. The maiden Lady Aria may also take a further step up here. However, Kevin Ryan’s horses are hitting form and his Queen Jo Jo shouldn’t be far away if taking her chance.
Ayr Gold Cup
The Ayr Gold Cup may only be a class 2 handicap but it will, undoubtedly, be the betting heat of the week. The race dates back all the way to 1804 and this six-furlong sprint has seen many a gamble landed over the years. Notable recent winners include Lochsong, Coastal Bluff, Bahamian Pirate, Our Jonathan, Brando, and Donjuan Triumphant, with the latter actually winning a rescheduled race at Haydock.
You have to take note of anything that Kevin Ryan runs as he’s saddled three of the last seven winners. He has five horses entered, which are Hey Jonesy, Major Jumbo, Naadir, Terentrum Star, and Tommy Taylor. However, the last two winners have come from the top of the weights and Laugh A Minute catches the eye. He stayed on powerfully over six-and-a half furlongs to win at Doncaster last season and looks the ideal type to win this race on soft ground.