Sadly, consistent with many a big race this flat season, the 2020 Ayr Gold Cup will be worth less than half the amount to the winner than it was last season – but thankfully, just as much in terms of prestige. Given it is a race that is rarely won, or contested for that matter, by horses just happening to come across it in the schedule.
It is the stuff of long-term plan and concoction – to emerge on the west coast of Scotland mid-way through September with an in-form, progressive and well-handicapped sprinter has long been the dream of many a northern trainer (and southern, Irish or wherever else takes your fancy.)
You will need to be rated in the low-90’s or perhaps even higher, just to get a run in the Gold Cup this year, and then obviously Silver and Bronze Cups will be run earlier on Saturday and Friday respectively, for the ones balloted out. Year in, year out, these earlier handicaps give us an idea of any distinct draw bias that exists on the straight course at Ayr, and so the Gold Cup can sometimes be a tricky ante-post race.
But I do feel there are two horses who have shown themselves to be in great heart recently, will enjoy the predicted decent ground on Saturday, and have both shown the pre-requisite class in their younger days to suggest they are still very nicely handicapped, if it all drops right.
Mr Lupton at 12/1 and Staxton at 20/1, both with Skybet are the early picks for the Ayr Gold Cup, and having both won valuable handicaps in the last few weeks, they look ripe for big runs again.
Back Mr Lupton or Staxton in the Ayr Gold Cup with Skybet!
Mr Lupton sluiced up under Colin Keane, for master trainer Richard Fahey over at the Curragh on Saturday in the valuable Bold Lad Handicap, having been given a favourable mention here at the start of the week – https://www.irishracing.com/news?prid=211556 – and landed a fair old touch in the process, having been available at 16/1 the night before. Given that Mr Lupton was a dual Group 3-winning sprinter, including at the Curragh in the spring of 2019, he was very well treated on his handicap mark of 100.
An eyecatcher in the Great St Wilfrid won by Staxton a month ago, Mr Lupton actually had an official mark 2lbs lower on these shores going in to the Curragh race on Sunday, so in contesting the Ayr Gold Cup this weekend, he will have to shoulder a 5lb penalty. Which all means he is only 3lbs higher than his facile Curragh win, and still 8lbs shy of his career high mark. At 12/1, he can only be shorter come the day.
Staxton is another horse who is 8lbs below his career high mark, and has been expertly campaigned by Tim Easterby to peak for these late summer valuable sprint handicaps, as illustrated by being recommended on these pages for the Great St Wilfrid, and duly winning in gutsy and determined style – https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/free-betting-tips/horse-racing/ripon-sunday-16th-august/. At 20/1, he is a huge price given all is in his favour yet again.
Both horses ran in the 2019 renewal and were a little disappointing in truth, but Mr Lupton wasn’t in the kind of form he is now, and Staxton actually ran a bit better than the bare result in racing alone on the far rail.
At 12/1 and 20/1 with Skybet, I can’t believe that firstly, Mr Lupton and Staxton won’t be shorter come the day, and also granted a favourable draw and luck in running, they must be bang there come the finish.