It’s going to be attrional and very hard work as six stayers go to post for this marathon trip at Ayr on Monday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Although he can be lazy at times, SEVENBALLS OF FIRE stays very well and that staying power is going to be crucial for today’s test. Back over fences over the three mile trip here last time out, he was no match for the run away winner, but he stayed on much the strongest and going up in trip should be much more to his liking. He remains with potential over fences with only two starts so far and the heavy conditions will help him to no end, so is not one to underestimate in this. Jonny Eager is likely to try in vain to out-stay the selection, with a career high mark of 115 possibly being his undoing in this
1 KILBREE CHIEF – Certainly not at his best this season, with lots of midfield efforts for Lucinda Russell without being a threat. He ran a better race than he has been doing last time out over C&D in January though, finishing third in an attritional race. Dropped a further 2lb but is still above his last winning mark, but with the forecasted heavy conditions he wouldn’t be amiss in the places as fewer will stay stronger than him, but he does remain vulnerable for win purposes in this.
2 SEVENBALLS OF FIRE – Does have a tendency to race lazily but is a very astute stayer and today’s race looks perfect for him. Returning to the larger obstacles when third here over the three mile trip, he was no match for a runaway winner that day but stayed on the strongest of the remainder and this step up in trip looks bound to suit him. Only twice raced over fences, he remains with potential and this heavy ground only adds to the growing case that can be made for Iain Jardine’s eight year old. Better can be expected yet and he looks the one to be on today with Ross Chapman taking off a useful 7lb.
3 JONNY EAGER – Made most when winning unchallenged over C&D in January and has been raised 11lb as a consequence. Clearly a very strong stayer and may yet have further improvement in him as a lightly raced eight year old, but he will need to improve if he’s to defy a career high mark of 115 for Alistair Williams. Has to be considered a danger as he does remain with potential but this mark combined with the likely testing conditions may well find him out today, especially as it’s highly doubtful he will be left unchallenged today. Respected nonetheless, but there are certainly chinks in his armour today.
4 NAKADAM – Had been poor this season but got things backed on track when second here over the 2m 4f trip in January, with the front two pulling fourteen lengths clear of the remainder. Better can be expected now back up in trip in conditions that will suit, though after being raised 2lb for that run he’s now 6lb above his last winning mark. Work to do but looks one of the more likely candidates with Richie McLernon taking the ride and has to be respected as such.
5 FINAGHY AYR – Returned from a long absence when winning at Carlisle (3m, Soft) despite some poor jumps, which was a brilliant training performance by Ian Duncan. Raised 7lb as a consequence though and faces some improving types in a arguably tougher race. Likely to be in their pitching back up in trip but should find a few of these too strong for him today.
6 SMUGGLERS STASH – Won at Hexham in December in a lower class off a 6lb lower mark but is usually rather one paced, as evidenced when fourth at Carlisle on Wednesday, travelling well but not finding an extra gear when it mattered. Still remains with potential after only four runs over fences and today’s conditions are perfect for him, but he does need this trip to bring out further improvement if he’s to play a leading role today. Others are more likely but could be a bigger price for the placings.