The Ayr Gold Cup festival begins on Thursday September 16. Three days of racing at Scotland’s only Grade 1 course. The first day sees the running of the Kilkerran Cup Handicap, due off at 4.10pm with the ground expected to be Good to Firm.
This is a Class 2 race run over a mile and two furlongs with a first prize of £15,462. It’s a race for horses aged three years and over rated 0-100. Last year saw the race won by First Impression, who was trained by John Quinn and went off at 17/2 who has since won over hurdles. Let’s take a look at the leading favourites for the 2021 renewal of this race.
Can First Impression win this race for a second year in a row? 2021 has seen the four-year-old have five races but no victories. The first run was over hurdles but since then First Impression has returned to flat racing and was placed in handicaps at Chester and Hamilton. The latter saw this runner go off as favourite but finished second, a neck behind Alright Sunshine who was receiving 5lbs, reported sportcrea.com
A poor run at Redcar followed and an 88 day break taken. First Impression returned at Redcar on August 27 and finished fifth in Class 3. With 9st 1lb to carry, this runner should come on for that Redcar race and the knowledgeable pundits at horse.bet believe a bold effort will be made to win this race again.
United Front is the runner top rated by experts at the Racing Post. Trained by Michael Appelby, this contender won a Class 2 race on the all-weather at Chelmsford in April of this year. United Front was previously trained by Aiden O’Brien and has taken part in Listed race company.
Last time out was a poor run though, finishing last of 12 at York in May. Since then, United Front has been gelded and it’ll be interesting to see if that brings any improvement in this return to the track.
Recent winner Sam Cooke is another interesting runner. This Ralph Beckett trained five-year-old won a Class 2 handicap at York on August 20 despite jockey Rob Hornby dropping the rein two furlongs out. This runner has been racing over longer distances, as far as a mile and six furlongs. The drop in distance is interesting and this runner has each-way claims.
Mark Johnston runs Sky Defender who returns to a mile and two furlongs. Last time out, this runner was in a mile and a half Class 2 race on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, finishing fifth. A better performance is expected at this distance and there is 6lbs less to carry on what is his 15th race of the year with no wins yet
Howzer Black is one to look out for. Trained by Keith Dalgleish, this five-year-old won last time out at Ripon on August 30. That was a Class 3 race and this runner carried 9st 10lbs. For this race only 9st 1lb will be on his back. 13 days before that win, Howzer Black had a creditable second at Hamilton, losing by a neck to Platinumcard over a mile and a furlong. Definite chance here in an open handicap.