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32Red Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2)
One of the biggest betting handicaps of the season, this sprint is always a fascinating puzzle for punters to try and solve. Just a single winning favourite in the last twenty years, with half of the winners in that time going off at 16/1 or bigger, it is a race that rewards those who find the victor. This year’s race will be run at Haydock, due to the meeting at Ayr being abandoned due to waterlogging. Our preview for the 2017 renewal of the Ayr Gold Cup is below.
IN SUMMARY: Shanghai Glory is suited by softer ground and was third in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon in August, only two pounds higher here. He will be on the premises but preference is for SAINTED, who is a lightly raced four year old who won over course and distance when last seen easily. She’s eight pounds higher here but there is far more to come from her and she loves these conditions. She should be very tough to beat, with the in form Ice Age perhaps her biggest danger.
1 GROWL – Fourth in the Steward’s Cup at Glorious Goodwood and although he tends to run his race in the big handicaps, he always finds at least one too good. He’s been below form the last twice and it’s best to oppose on balance.
2 DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT – Revels in softer ground and won here over the seven furlong distance when last seen making all readily. A drop back in distance is no concern and although this mark demands a career best, he’s a strong contender.
3 MR LUPTON – Does have smart form at the six furlong distance, winning off this mark at Newmarket in May. Things haven’t been straight forward since though and he has something to prove on this ground. Too many doubts to be confident here.
4 PERFECT PASTURE – Won a Listed race at Windsor in May for Mick Easterby but he’s been well beaten on all four starts since, tailed off at York in a Group 3 when last seen. His current mark demands a career best and he’s unlikely to be up to the task.
5 JOHNNY BARNES – Won on heavy in the past for John Gosden and was last seen winning a big field handicap at Goodwood, getting a dream run that day. He’s seven pounds higher here and the drop back to six furlongs is a question mark. Each way claims if they go off at a frantic pace.
6 ORION’S BOW – Won the Scottish Stewards’ Cup off three pounds lower last season but he’s not been at his best the last twice. He was well held in a race at York, but he’s down to a very dangerous mark and it would be foolish to dismiss him.
7 AEOLUS – Losing run stretches back to June 2015 and she’s very inconsistent, second in the Steward’s Cup two starts ago before flopping in a Group 3 at York. Will be suited by this strongly run contest, but it’s impossible to be confident in her.
8 SHANGAI GLORY – Hampered in the Steward’s Cup two starts ago and he was only beaten a length in the Great St Wilfrid when last seen. He’s two pounds higher here and likes softer ground, so should be in the shake-up and is respected.
9 STAKE ACCLAIM – Has enjoyed a good year, winning a Shergar Cup race back in August, but off this mark he’s been well held the last twice. Jack Duern takes off three pounds but she should fall short again.
10 RENE MATHIS – Broke a long losing run when winning at Thirsk in April, but he’s not been seen since and this is a much tougher race than that latest one. He’s on a fair mark based on previous form, but it’s easy to look elsewhere.
11 KICKBOXER – Course and distance winner who hasn’t been seen since winning on stable debut at Thrisk back in May. She handles conditions, but she needs a career best off this mark and a 133 day absence has to be of concern.
12 SAINTED – Lightly raced four year old who is improving all the time for Willie Haggas, winning her latest start at Haydock very easily. This is tougher and she’s up eight pounds, but she’s going the right way and will love conditions. Connections are in red-hot form and she should be tough to beat.
13 WITHERNSEA – Rarely seen over this distance, but he arrives here in great form, third in a Premier Handicap at Leopardstown when last seen. He’s on the same mark here and has each way claims once again as he’ll handle the ground well, with a strong pace very likely.
14 GET KNOTTED – Tends to run on better ground but he has won on soft in the psat, though his form this season is less than convincing. He was well held on his latest start at Ascot and this is no easier, so he’s low on the list.
15 GLENROWAN ROSE – Bidded for a four-timer at Pontefract on her latest start, but she pulled up after losing her action and that’s worrying. Heavy ground is likely to blunt her over this distance and her chances aren’t clear.
16 ICE AGE – Arrives here on a four-timer for Eve Johnson Houghton, winning a big field handicap at the Curragh when last seen comfortably. This is tougher and he has an eight pound penalty, but he couldn’t be discounted as he’s really taking gaint strides forward this season.
17 DOC SPORTELLO – Lightly raced five year old who has won on heavy in the past, though that was only a maiden. He was last seen well down the field at Ascot (Get Knotted in third) and off only three pounds lower, he couldn’t be recommended.