4.00pm Ayr Tips & Betting Preview 17/01/2017

Eight go to post for the ‘lucky last’ at Ayr, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: Handicap debutant PIKARNIA showed good promise in novice company and should now have more to give in handicaps. An opening mark of 100 doesn’t look particularly harsh and he should take some begging back with the inform Brian Hughes aboard and conditions to suit. His main challenger is likely to be Surprise Vendor who if back to his best is on a very dangerous mark.

1 INTERCOUNTY STAR – Ran a big race on handicap debut when 6th of 22 at Pucnhestown on New Year’s Eve (2m, Soft), and now has a good base to build off. He should be capable of better with conditions to suit and deserves a second look, though he hasn’t been progressive throughout his career thus far and it is hard to give him any more than place claims.

2 THE PIERRE LARK – Ran much better than the bare result of his 9th at Market Rasen suggests on handicap debut, and despite being keen was third two out where he made an error and weakened quickly (2m 4f, Good to Soft). The drop back in trip for today’s race should suit judging upon how well he travelled last time out but he does need to learn to settle better, with this softer ground not being an issue if judged on previous form. Has to be considered a main contender and is respected.

3 PIKARNIA – Only raced twice over hurdles and wasn’t disgraced in novice company, finishing 4th at Wetherby in November (2m, Soft) and 3rd at Carlisle in December (2m 1f, Soft). Didn’t jump particularly well on both occasions but a mark of 100 for his handicap debut doesn’t look insurmountable and in all likelihood Rebecca Menzies will have polished off his jumping. With the inform Brian Hughes retaining the ride (9-38 in the past two weeks) he is bound to run well with conditions to suit and demands a huge amount of respect.

4 CANOVA – Record now stands at 0-10 after never really threatening at Downpatrick in September (2m 2f, Good), continuing to not make any improvement on his best efforts. Is in good hands with Gordon Elliott but he looks far from progressive and would much prefer better ground, with these heavy conditions likely to find him out today. Hard to recommend against horses who have more scope for progress and is passed over today.

5 SUPRISE VENDOR – 11 year old who is on a good mark at present, 4lb below his last winning mark but has been less than impressive this season, and his latest 5th at Newcastle was a particularly tame effort as favourite (2m, Soft). Today’s ground will suit him and has won over C&D in the past, but it is hard to get excited by his chances with how he’s performed this season. He’d have place chances if back to his best but others are obviously more progressive and hold sounder claims.

6 HERE COMES LOVE – Lightly raced under rules but far from convincing on any his starts to date, last seen tailed off over fences in May (2m 4f, Good). Makes his seasonal reappearance back over hurdles where he hasn’t threatened in any of his four starts to date, which makes him impossible to recommend.

7 SKY FULL OF STARS – Last seen two weeks ago over fences when second to a run away winner at this venue (1m 7f, Soft), and returns to hurdling for the first time since February. 2lb lower than when well beaten at Musselburgh (2m 7f, Soft) that time, though dropping back to this trip will definitely help him. Heavy ground isn’t an issue and has definite place claims if returning to hurdles at his best, with the majority of this field far from convincing.

8 RIOJA DAY – Finished runner up off 4lb higher at Musselburgh in November (1m 7f, Good) but that has only come about after a string of poor efforts lately, including his latest 6th of 13 over that same C&D earlier this month. Needs to bounce back but his overall record of 0-14 doesn’t make for good reading and he’s certainly vulnerable for win purposes, but with Callum Bewley claiming 3lb it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see him placing in conditions that will be fine today.

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