Northern Express - big run expected
Northern Express - big run expected

Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup preview and tips

David Ord with three horses on his shortlist for Saturday's Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup.

JUAN LES PINS (top-priced 16/1)

There’s very little not to like about his chance.

Third in the race behind Summerghand last year (a rival who will go well despite top weight on Saturday), Mick Appleby’s charge arrives here this time an improved performer and in the form of his life.

He’s actually eight pounds lower on Saturday than he would be had the race not been an early-closer after hitting the frame in a couple of Listed races at Newmarket and York on his most recent starts.

He closed up late when a three-quarters-of-a-length second to Commanche Falls at the Knavesmire earlier this month and is well treated and overpriced.

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NORTHERN EXPRESS (top-priced 25/1)

He’s having a superb season and might just enjoy the biggest day of it on Saturday.

Michael Dods’ charge has run twice at the course and meeting before, winning a seven furlong handicap last season and finishing second in a novice stakes on only his second career start.

This term he’s been a model of consistency and shaped better than the finishing position suggests when fifth behind Ropey Guest in a valuable York handicap at the Ebor meeting.

He had to wait for a run that day when short of room two furlongs out and finished with petrol in the tank. He's up two pounds but clearly likes the track, a strongly-run race at this trip might just suit down to the ground and he handles any going. He can’t be a 25/1 chance.

MONTASSIB (top-priced 25/1)

He started the season as a leading fancy for the Lincoln and could end it with a bold bid in the Ayr Gold Cup.

He never looked like getting into the race at Doncaster but was rebuilt to win a handicap at Newmarket in May from a mark only three pounds below the one from which he will race at the weekend.

He went in deep in his next three starts and there was evidence in the Moet & Chandon International Handicap at Ascot in July to suggest he’s getting to grips with what’s required. William Haggas’ charge came home second in his group when eighth behind Barada, running on well inside the final furlong.

He was a neck in front of Ramazan that day and finds himself eight pounds better off with Richard Fahey’s charge in Scotland. He remains relatively low mileage, arrives at Ayr fresh and clearly in excellent hands. He’s another potential player as his stamina could come into play on testing ground.

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