AYR - Western Meeting – Thursday September 16th to Saturday September 18th
It’s normally safe to assume that the going will be on the soft side for showpiece of the Scottish flat season. This wasn’t the case though as the west of Scotland avoided any significant rain, the ground drying out from just softer than good on Thursday to touching fast on Saturday.
The meeting opened with an ordinary maiden in which the favourite didn’t fire, Another Citizen passing Macho’s Magic in the final furlong. SHADOW CATCHER was outpaced in the first half of the race, but picked up nicely in the final two furlongs and looks to need a stiffer test than this six furlongs.
NORTHSIDE PRINCE impressed me with his battling qualities in the feature event, the mile and a quarter Kilkerran Cup Handicap. He has progressed through the season but was just pipped by PENDRAGON, another who has come on in leaps and bounds in recent months.
PUY D’ARNAC ran a decent race in Thursday’s closing 1m 5f Handicap. His best from has been on soft ground, and he’s not been over-raced this term, so there must be an opportunity or two in the closing weeks of the turf season.
WELL SHARP quickened up nicely to win the seven furlong maiden on Friday’s card. His family improves with distance and he looks a handy prospect for next year.
ALBEN STAR won a decent looking maiden on his debut at Musselburgh, the second, fourth and sixth having all won since. He had to work to hold off Drawing Board in the nursery here, but he looks to have a fair bit of scope and could make a mark in Pattern company in time.
Exposed performer ARCTIC FEELING won the Listed Rosebery Stakes with a late burst. On the face of it we could have seen the best of him, but it’s worth considering that he comes from a family who have won races as three and four-year-olds.
DESCARO has improved for being upped significantly in distance, and won the extended 17 furlong Eglinton Cup with ease. He showed some promise over hurdles last season and his trainer now has a choice of flat or hurdles for the coming weeks.
Frankie Dettori weaved his way through on the stands’ side to win the Ayr Gold Cup on REDFORD. The winner has since followed up over a furlong more at Ascot and looks to have a little more in hand in current mood. This was a very high class renewal which would have made a strongly contested Listed contest. The popularity of the Ayr sprint event is emphasised by the fact that the course can fill both Silver Cup and Bronze Cup. HITCHENS won the race on the far side in finishing third, the stands’ side holding a two or three length advantage over most of the meeting.
TIGER REIGNS took a strong renewal of the Ayrshire Handicap, but one I’d take from the race is OUR JOE MAC who rallied well in the closing stages for fourth after being caught for pace two. Off a mark of 94 there may be just a little scope for easing the latter in class, or perhaps a taking a three-year-old handicap if the opportunity arises.
HAMILTON – Sunday 19th September and Monday September 20th
STATE OPERA put up the most significant performance of Hamilton’s two day seasonal finale. A lengthy colt who looks to have some developing, in similar mould to the same stable’s Sergeant Ablett, Mark Johnston’s charge wound up the pace from four furlongs and came clear when asked. The third is on a solid looking 77 rating and that must put the winner up in then 90s. One for next season assuming he strengthens over the winter.
MING MENG looks to be an improving sort and was a staying on third in the six furlong Flower Of Scotland Handicap.
Mark Johnston has TOBERNEA at the right end of the handicap, Joe Fanning setting a typically well judged pace over the eleven furlong trip and his mount seeing off challengers up the hill. He should pick up another race this autumn.