It's a dead-heat: Son Of Rest and Baron Bolt create Ayr Gold Cup history
A bolt from the blue indeed. Huge ante-post gamble Son Of Rest and outsider Baron Bolt produced the first dead-heat in the long history of the Ayr Gold Cup following a pulsating finish to Scotland's premier Flat race.
In sharing victory, the Fozzy Stack-trained Son Of Rest – a horse beaten half a length in a Group 1 six days earlier and 10lb well in – proved the handicap 'good thing' punters who backed him into 5-1 favourite (from 20-1) through the week predicted he would be.
But he was forced to share the spoils as 28-1 shot Baron Bolt, representing Paul Cole and apprentice Cameron Noble, proved his equal at the finish.
After an agonising wait of approximately seven minutes before the dead-heat was called, second-season trainer Stack could celebrate a key victory in his fledgling career and also a maiden success for Ireland in the historic race.
"I said to Brian [Parker, owner] we'd take a dead-heat," said Stack. "He ran a great race last weekend and I was a bit worried about the travelling to get here.
"He hasn't done much all week and you're hoping and praying he's in great shape. It's a very prestigious race and it's great to be a small part of history."
The outcome was also a positive one in the early career of Noble, an apprentice based in Newmarket with Michael Bell and having his first ride not just for Cole but also at Ayr.
"This is definitely the biggest win of my career so far and the biggest opportunity I've had as well," said the 20-year-old.
"My agent Tony Hind called up Mr Cole and got me on this fella and I'd like to thank connections for having me on board."
Son Of Rest's jockey Chris Hayes, a multiple Group 1 winner who primarily splits his time between Stack and Kevin Prendergast, thought he had been caught after his mount had gone clear a furlong out.
"I thought I was beat so it's nice to get half of it," he said. "I was a flared nostril away from getting my P45. He's an out-and-out hold-up horse and as I got there a furlong out I said to myself it was too soon, but he has kept going."
On a day when bookmakers suspended the betting on talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union breaking down without a deal, Stack took the opportunity to voice his concerns about the uncertainty felt by the racing industry as a whole.
"There's one thing I'd like to say about Brexit," he said. "This horse left the Republic of Ireland, went into Northern Ireland, who voted against Brexit, and into Scotland, who voted against Brexit. In six months' time will we all be here? I don't know but it'll be a lot of hassle anyway.
"It already takes 11 hours door-to-door. In future, how long will it take to get here if there are border points, which there'll probably have to be. It's a topical conversation, I think people need to think about these things."
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