6f William Hill Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2)
The Ayr Gold Cup is serving us up a treat on Saturday afternoon. The highlight of the year for the Ayrshire faithful and the going looks to be perfectly good ground for this collection of 24 sprinters.
There has been plenty of support for the Irish Raider, BUFFER ZONE trained by Ger Lyons, who’s yard has been in flying form this season. He was acquired from Roger Charlton earlier in the season and has been highly progressive since his gelding operation. Last year’s winner Son Of Rest had run at the Curragh the week prior to this race and Buffer Zone bids to repeat the feat.
The quick turnaround would be the slight concern, but connections are confident they have a Group horse and with his silky performance last weekend, they might not be wrong. He has to back it up though and so a win bet feels right at odds that might continue to shorten.
Kevin Ryan has won this race four times and has two in this with Major Jumbo and HEY JONESY. I think the latter could be ideal with his yard targeting it for him this season.
Hey Jonesy finished fourth in the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old and fifth in the Commonwealth Cup last season which contained a similar size field.
He’s a difficult horse to get right, but his last two runs over 7f on soft ground were not over ideal conditions and he’s better judged on some of his earlier form this season which saw him finish second to Dream Of Dreams and a decent fourth in a Group 2 at York behind Invincible Army and Major Jumbo, who he is 5lbs better off at the weights with now.
Hey Jonesy drops two pounds to a mark of 103 – his lowest in two years – and on just his third attempt in a big-field handicap he’s worth keeping on side at odds of 10/1.
I’m also going to have a few quid each-way on LAUGH A MINUTE, who sticks out at as being potentially overpriced at odds of 14/1. The Roger Varian inmate has to bounce back from a poor run on soft ground at Hamilton last time out, but he’s definitely capable of doing so in first-time blinkers.
A close look at his juvenile form reads very well with it including a strong success against a big-field. Laugh A Minute has got plenty of pace around him with his low draw in stall five and remains lightly campaigned. He is also likely to get a good toe into the race and is more unexposed than most.
Arecibo was another interesting runner for David O’Meara, but he might not get home over a strongly run six furlongs.
1.5pts win Buffer Zone @6/1, 1pt each-way Hey Jonesy @10/1,
1pt each-way Laugh A Minute @14/1, (1-7 places, 1/5 odds with Skybet), 15:50 Ayr, Saturday