Portland winner drawn 27 for Ayr Gold Cup bid
HOGMANEIGH, winner of the Portland Handicap last weekend, will break from stall 27 in Saturday's John Smith's Ayr Gold Cup.
Hogmaneigh (far left) gets up to land the Portland HandicapPICTURE: Mark Cranham
The Stuart Williams-trained sprinter was first out of the hat in the televised draw and a stable representative had no hesitation in choosing a stall next to the stands' rail.
The 2006 winner Fonthill Road was drawn out not long after and was placed in stall one on the far rail, with River Falcon in box two and last year's winner Advanced in stall three.
Not surprisingly all the positions near a rail were snapped up first with conditions expected to be very testing indeed.
The high stall appeared first choice with the well-backed Confuchias in 26 and Great St Wilfrid winner Tajneed in 21.
But Jim Goldie, who knows the Ayr track better than most, broke the mould by placing his Portland runner-up River Falcon, who scraped into the race by the skin of his teeth, in stall two. Stablemate Dhaular Dhar is in eight.
"I walked it yesterday and high is best at the moment but I would think they are going to get a lot of traffic down there," explained Goldie.
"My theory is that it may be fresher ground on the far side and I've been drawn high before and never got a run.
"Both of mine are hold-up horses and they need to be able to get through so I thought they might get a better run if there are less on that side.
"With Tamagin (five) on our side hopefully he will force the pace. At the moment high is best, but on Saturday it might not be," he told Racing UK.
Top-weight Appalachian Trail will go from stall 14 with another fancied runner, Valery Borzov in stall seven.
Conditions are sure to be stamina-sapping after prolonged periods of rain but clerk of the course Katherine Self is confident the meeting will go ahead.
"It is still very heavy, as I have been telling everyone all week," said Self.
"We had a dry day yesterday and the forecast is for it tobe dry today until 6pm.
"We are unable to have fresh ground on the straight track but we are hopeful that we will be able to repair the surface well.
"If it was dry there may have been a draw bias, but I find it hard to believe there will be one in these conditions - traditionally they have run up either rail.
"We do have more rain forecast overnight tonight but I'm confident we will be racing on all three days."
Following the draw, Totesport cut last year's winner Advanced and Portland winner Hogmaneigh.
Spokesman Damian Walker said: "We have trimmed last year's winner Advanced a point into 9-1 from 10-1 as he has avoided getting drawn in the middle of the track and stall three could prove to be an ideal berth given that four of the last five winners were drawn 10 or lower and the speedy Tamagin comes out of stall five.
"Advanced hasn't won a race since taking last season's Ayr Gold Cup and as a result he races off a 5lb lower mark, but he showed he was on the way back when second in a Listed event at Beverley last time and looks set to run a big race on Saturday.
"Dandy Nicholls has five horses drawn 20 or higher and one of those is the pacey Tajneed and that could help hold-up horse Hogmaneigh, who is drawn 27.
"Hogmaneigh is 10-1 from 12-1 and would probably be the one to beat if he can last home in the bottomless ground."