Race Time: 2.40pm Meeting: Ayr Day: Saturday 2nd January 2015 Full Race Name: 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle Class Two
Two and three quarter miles on this sort of ground will feel like three or more by the time they flow over the line and we will be working accordingly as much as possible as we try to track down the likeliest winner. Just the one winner last time out in the shape of Tap Night (9/2), so we ought to at least start with the nine year old who won last time out at Musselburgh over a fraction shorter in the first week of December. Better still, he also has a course and distance in against his name from his dim and distant past in 2013, while his overall Ayr record of six races for three wins and a second isn’t to be sniffed at, and does show a liking for the track. Add a couple of wins on heavy ground and he certainly has good chances, and as he has also won off ratings up to ten pounds higher than today, he looks to have an awful lot going for him here.
Yes Tom (12/1) hardly has a winners’ profile with two “P”’s for Pulled Up against his name this season but he comes over from Ireland and that has to be a hint in itself. His exploits of late have all been over fences, with his last hurdle race in November 2013, but he has won over fences off a handicap mark of 136 (interestingly, here), so has to be looked on as thrown in off of 121 today, and we will be watching the early betting very carefully as we smell a potential stable gamble!
Looking for a horse coming to the boil in time for today has to lead us to Shades Of Midnight (9/2) who was tenth on his seasonal return in early November when looking in need of the race and then third later the same month, just over five lengths behind Island Heights. Assuming that has put the son of Midnight Legend straight for this contest as it should he would have a decent enough chance at the price and has scored off a mark just a pound lower than todays which when added to his progressive profile keeps us more than a little interested and after careful consideration and a look at the odds he will be our selection here.
Interestingly, we note that Sa Suffit (8/1) has been redirected here when originally expected to be appearing in another race, so does that mean they think the thirteen year old has a better chance we wonder? It seems fair to guess that he wont be improving too much at his age, but then again he may not need to as he has already won numerous races off of marks up to 152, and gets in here off of 136 so in theory he could have a load in hand, while his Ayr record of one win from three isn’t brilliant, but does at least prove he has experience of the track and its various intricacies.
To end with, Desert Cry (12/1) makes an interesting each way alternative to the better fancied runners with his five runs here producing a win two seconds and a third, just the sort of thing we like to see in a place alternative. His return at Cheltenham was uninspiring but we could be kind enough to assume he needed the race, and that was over fences but back over hurdles he was way above average with a rating as high as 143 at his peak (races off of 138 today), but was rated all the way up to 155 over the larger obstacles and could be an interesting option this afternoon.