Roger Fell not putting punters off Muntadab as Ayr Gold Cup gamble gathers pace
Soft-ground specialist Muntadab was on Wednesday proving popular with punters for Saturday's William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, with the sponsor slashing Roger Fell's hope to 16-1 from 25-1.
A former assistant to David O'Meara, Fell has already mopped up two big handicaps this year with Burnt Sugar, who won the International at Ascot and Bunbury Cup at Newmarket, and believes there are reasons to be optimistic about his mud-loving six-year-old's chance.
The North Yorkshire-based trainer said: "I don't know who's been backing Muntadab but I can see the logic as he is one of the few in the race who will really love soft ground.
"If it were seven furlongs instead of six I would probably be backing him myself but hopefully the ground will slow the others down a bit."
Muntadab is without a win in six starts this season but has not had his favoured testing ground, which he is almost certain to encounter in the west of Scotland, with the going at Ayr soft, heavy in places on Wednesday after another wet day. Further showers are possible on Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Fell has not left anything to chance in one of the toughest handicaps of the season and has booked champion apprentice David Egan to ride Muntadab, who scored twice over seven furlongs on soft ground last year.
He added: "We've hung on to him all season for this and we've managed to book David Egan so hopefully he can run a nice race.
"One issue is the draw, we won it in my time with David O'Meara by going down the golden highway under the stands' rail but they've moved it in a bit so it may not be quite that easy these days."
Egan, who in July pulled out of the apprentice title race to instead become a fully-fledged rider, is well on course to beat his 2017 tally of 61 winners, and enjoyed his biggest success on Pilaster in the Group 2 Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood last month.
The easy surface is also set to suit favourite Son Of Rest, runner-up in the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, who on Wednesday remained the 6-1 favourite with the sponsor after being supported from 20-1 on Monday.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com