Competitive renewal expected in the Ayr Gold Cup’s big return

| September 14, 2021

Scottish horse racing holds its own in the United Kingdom, but it’s not too often they make it onto the world stage. This year is different when the Ayr Gold Cup makes a welcome return to the calendar. For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, ravaging the sport across the globe, a capacity crowd will be permitted to attend the Ayr racecourse and savour the 2021 renewal of a historic race that can be traced back to 1804 and the traders from Glasgow to Vegas are ready to pounce.

The date for your diaries is Saturday 18 September, and the plans are for a full house. For most of this year, Restrictions in Scotland locked the public out of the venue, with mass gatherings banned. 

That was eased slightly to 1000 in attendance before 5000 were permitted entry. Current guidelines have the 5000 cap but venues can apply for more and with the likes of Glasgow Rangers and Celtic granted more than 50,000 supporters at their games in recent weeks, it has paved the way for the Ayr Gold Cup to roar back. 

The scene is set

Hamilton Park – one of Scotland’s other main racecourses – welcomed 12,500 people through its doors in late August, and the excitement is building. The stands at Ayr will be packed as those in attendance cheer not only the return of crowds to major racing events in the region but also of another sign that a “normal” way of life is returning.

With the scene set, the pressure is now on those involved in the day’s main event to ensure the race delivers, living up to the hype and playing its part in what will be a memorable occasion for Scottish sport. The field is a competitive one with no strong favourite in the betting, and that will catch the attention of the value hunters looking to land a profit.

Following a year behind closed doors, which jockey, horse and trainer will etch their name into the history books by winning the 2021 Ayr Gold Cup? With the odds-makers at a loss to predict the champion, it makes for an interesting renewal. There are clues available from past runnings of this six-furlong handicap that can help us pick a winner, and below, we highlight some of the more important race trends.

Ayr Gold Cup trends

There’s plenty to go on here, and we’ll start with the betting, and it’s worth keeping an eye on which horse the traders go with. This isn’t known as a race that produces lots of winning favourites, but the last champion, Nahaarr, started at the head of the list as 7/2 SP favourite, and two of the last three winners have been fav as well as half of the last six. Don’t be swayed by the betting but give the market the respect it deserves.

Favourites have figured prominently in the Ayr Gold Cup in recent times

When looking at the age of recent winners, we see that four is the magic number, and that will be a strong trend for bettors this year. Nahaarr was a four-year-old, and that’s an age shared by four of the last five champions. The odd one out was Angel Alexander, who was a three-year-old and big odds winner.

Before the final declarations stage and the official field has been printed into the race day programme, it’s worth taking a look through the trends for any hints and tips that could see us get one over on the bookies.

Balding is the only slight trainer trend

Tom Dawson stands as the Ayr Gold Cup’s most successful trainer and is likely to hold that honour for many years to come. He trained no less than 15 champions between 1835 and 1869, and that record won’t be beaten. In recent times no trainer has made this event their own. William Haggas sent out the winner last year, but that was his debut win. 

Andrew Balding has trained two of the last eight champions, and that’s about as close to a trainer trend as you’ll find. Balding won the race with Highland Colori in 2013, then again with Donjuan Triumphant in 2017.

The horse that dominated the antepost betting market was Great Ambassador, who is a four-year-old favourite with an Australian breeding line trained by Ed Walker. The gelding enters on the back of a win at Newmarket in August over 6f on good ground.

Category: International

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