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Joy o’ joy: the Ayr Gold Cup, 28-runners, six furlongs of Scottish turf, done and dusted in around one minute and only one winner. Fortitude is a necessity but the race trends are an even better aid when trying to crack the puzzle of Europe’s richest sprint handicap.

Unusually for a big field dash there is no significant draw bias. The race has been won from middle and high berths, though no horse drawn lower than stall seven has prevailed in the last ten years. Another interesting statistic is that only one horse carrying a penalty has won in the last ten renewals, despite 30 such runners. That puts a question-mark next to the ante-post gamble Out After Dark.

But perhaps the most telling trend is the record of trainer Dandy Nicholls in this race. The sprint king has eight runners on Saturday and is attempting to make it five Ayr Gold Cup wins in six years. He has more fancied runners, but Traytronic near the top of the weights could be the one to beat. The booking of in-form jockey Kerrin McEvoy catches the eye.

The Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh sees that redoubtable stayer Vinnie Roe attempt an amazing five-timer in the race. The heart cries out ‘yes’ but this time the head says ‘no’. John Oxx’s Shalapour will surely have too much firepower for the old stager. Vinnie Roe’s prep for this race has been far from ideal. It would nice to see him take his final bow in the Melbourne Cup ‘down under’, if at his best he could give the locals as much of a scare as ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.

At the other end of their racing career’s some smart two-year olds contest the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury. Cool Creek looks up to the task of giving trainer Richard Hannon a second successive win in the race.


2:45 Newbury Cool Creek (win)

3:40 Ayr Traytonic (each-way)

3:40 The Curragh Shalapour (win)

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