The Ayr card ends with a corking looking seven furlong handicap. There are a number of unexposed three year olds in here who could be worth following as the season progresses. Read on for our runner by runner preview and tip.
IN SUMMARY: Plenty of pace likely here with a number of front runners in opposition. That should suit SABADOR down to the ground who is dropped in trip having pulled too hard over a mile at Leicester. That he still finished second there is testament to the engine that he has and he can score as the sole raider for Ed Walker. Makkaar is entitled to improve as a three year old but he strikes as one who will do so further up in trip. Both Fieldsman and Russian Realm are drawn wider than ideal but a big run from them would come as no surprise.
1 MICHELE STROGOFF – Already on his fifth different trainer, he extended his UK record to 0/9 when runner up at Carlisle last week. He was harshly treated, entering the country with a rating of 95 but having seen that fall to 87 last time, he was still unable to get his head in front, Placed over both a mile and a mile and a quarter since arriving on these shores, this relatively easy seven furlongs might just be on the sharp side for him.
2 FIELDSMAN – Three times a winner so far in his career, twice on the switchback tracks of Brighton and Epsom and once on the undulating Rowley Mile at Newmarket. All three have been over this trip and twice off higher marks so trainer David O’Meara looks likely to get a positive result from him this season. his return was a smart effort at Redcar, easy to excuse his subsequent flop at Thirsk over a mile on soft ground. Patrick Vaughan takes a valuable seven pounds off so he is highly respected despite the wide draw.
3 RUSSIAN REALM – Taken a little while to find his stride this season but produced a best for 2017 when fifth at Doncaster last time. That was in a deeper contest than this, with the handicapper generously dropping him another two pounds for his troubles. He scored off 91 last April so from a mark some eight pounds lower, he should certainly be competitive for a shrewd yard, despite a wider than ideal draw.
4 DRAGON KING – Placed over shorter last season, as well as showing up for a long way from the front in marquee handicaps such as Ripon’s Great St Wilfred. The step up in trip is a bit of a question mark, with a first time hood on to try to get him home. the Iain Jardine yard haven’t had him long so they may still be looking for the key to him, looks to have too many questions to answer for now.
5 ZORAVAN – Twice a winner in 2017 but on both occasions has followed up the success with an abject performance. A winner on the Fibresand at Southwell and on soft at Doncaster raises concerns about the suitability of good to firm ground, especially as his dam’s sole win came on soft ground on her debut. Still lightly raced, there is likely to be improvement to come but it may not be until there is a little more juice in the ground than is likely here.
6 TAVENER – Connections have kept this son of Exceed And Excel busy in 2017, already fifteen runs on his resume this year. He has scored three times, including over this trip on good to firm ground at Musselburgh so conditions will be to his liking. His mark however has skyrocketed from 56 in February to 77 now and although the busy spell has not affected his consistency, he faces competition for the lead which makes this a tough task off an inflated mark.
7 JAY KAY – A standing dish at Ayr, a gutsy front runner with four wins coming at this track, including three over this distance. He has not got his head in front since August 2015, failing by just a short head here last August. That has pushed him back up the weights again to 74, with his highest winning mark so far at 69. He is another for whom a drop of rain wouldn’t go amiss with the majority of his best form with cut in the ground so despite a beautiful draw in 2 for one who likes to force the pace, he is overlooked.
8 SABADOR – Lightly raced, the drop back to this seven furlong trip looks a smart move as he pulled too hard at Leicester last time over a mile. It’s testament to the engine he has that he was able to keep on to finish second on that occasion and a strong pace here should allow him to drop his head and get into a rhythm. The Ed Walker yard could be in better form ideally for his chances but he acts on quick ground and this unexposed three year old can take full advantage of the weight benefits afforded him here.
9 MAKKAAR – Steadily progressive as a juvenile over three starts, he broke his maiden tag in the last of them at Newmarket in October. In typical Mark Johnston style, he made all the running on that occasion, that won’t be easy to replicate with a couple of others who like to get on with it from the front in opposition. Johnston trained his half brother – Bow Creek – to a pair of Group 2 victories in 2014, so he knows the family well. Looks likely to be a mile and a quarter horse in time, it’s interesting that connections opt to start him off over seven furlongs this season.
10 SLEMY – All four career wins over this specialist trip of seven furlongs, his three handicaps have all come off this mark or higher so he looks well treated at the moment. That said, it’s hardly surprising given that his four runs in 2017 have yielded little in the way of promise so despite being on a winnable mark, there are too many questions surrounding his current wellbeing to support.
11 FAYEZ – Struggled in the main last season after making a winning debut at Ripon. He went close at Haydock off this mark in August but both his final run last season and his 2017 return were below par. He was gelded over the winter and is in the right hands (David O’Meara) to get his head back in front this season but he faded tamely out on contention when push came to shove at Beverley last time and that leaves him with a little to prove.