Our Jonathan to strike gold
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value at Ayr and fancies Our Jonathan to repeat his 2011 win in the feature race.
- Related Content
Kevin Ryan masterminded three consecutive Portland Handicaps for Halmahera a decade ago and the North Yorkshire handler can land a hat-trick of Ayr Gold Cups on Saturday.
Ryan has a squad of four running for him in the race this time around but I'm only interested in his winner from last year, CAPTAIN RAMIUS, who has been campaigned to perfection ahead of his season-long target.
It used to be the same with Halmahera who struggled to win a race anywhere other than his beloved Doncaster where he came alive over the five-and-a-half furlongs each September.
Captain Ramius looks a classier operator than the old warrior, but like Halmahera he needs certain conditions to show his very best form and soft ground looks a prerequisite for him.
And just 5lb higher than when winning last year, Captain Ramius looks to have a huge chance at the weights considering he won the 2012 renewal very easily.
Ryan resisted the temptation to run him on very fast ground in the summer months and his patience can be rewarded this autumn with the ground now turning in Captain Ramius' favour.
He had his prep race in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon once again and while his 14th-placed finish was a poor effort on the face of it he was only beaten eight lengths and he will come on considerably for his first race in four months.
The son of Khelyf was beaten in a Group Three at Newmarket on good ground in April but before that he was second in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster on soft ground, beaten half-a-length by Saturday's favourite Jack Dexter off level weights.
Receiving 5lb from that rival in Scotland, I would expect him to reverse the form and with Pat Smullen back in the saddle for the first time since last year's success everything looks in place for another huge run.
He's worth backing at 14/1, along with 2011 winner OUR JONATHAN who also appeals at the general 25s on offer.
Dr Marwan Koukash's horse won this race for Ryan two years ago but he's at David Simcock's now following a spell with Tim Pitt and the signs are he's still capable despite a string of disappointing results.
He was actually a one-length third behind Jack Dexter and Captain Ramius in the aforementioned Cammidge Trophy when with Pitt - his last effort on soft conditions.
Plenty of give underfoot is vital for this Invincible Spirit gelding and you can put a line through his runs on faster ground in the summer.
Last week in the Portland he was very well backed but could never get on terms before finishing 12th. However, a closer look at that race suggests he was badly drawn with only two single-figure drawn horses finishing in the top ten and he was only beaten seven lengths overall.
I wouldn't give up on him yet and off an 8lb-lower mark than when he won this race on soft ground, he's of huge interest considering he's hardly had his optimum conditions since.
Finally, in the consolation race, YEEOOW is worth backing at 16/1.
Karl Burke's charge is only 2lb higher than when successful at Ascot in May when he defied slight interference to come through the field after being held up.
He loves chasing a strong pace and travelled much the best at Doncaster last time before being outpointed by Sir Reginald in the closing stages.
I'd expect him to reverse the form with that rival on revised terms especially on soft ground, a surface he hasn't encountered before but one he should thrive on looking at his pedigree.
***Captain Ramius declared a non-runner at 1913BST 20/09 (self cert - injured in box)
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet Aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +270.56pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current). The column is +138.25pts to recommended stakes in 2013.