Varian's Ekhtiyaar looks just right for Ayr Gold Cup success
Success in Scotland has been the plan for some time
With the Stewards’ Cup out of the way, the next massive prize for sprint handicappers to target is the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup next month.
Except that one trainer was targeting the race even before the Stewards’ Cup – Roger Varian with his exciting three-year-old Ekhtiyaar.
Although Ekhtiyaar was prominent in the market for the Stewards’ Cup, Varian had told us he was minded to give the horse a break and wait for Ayr as part of his Goodwood stable tour. And sure enough he wasn’t among the five-day confirmations last week.
It looks a sound move as Ekhityaar has had a busy first half to the season, during which he won good three-year-old handicaps at both Newmarket courses.
That took his record on good ground or softer to 3-3 whereas all three of his defeats have come on good to firm, so he should find conditions very much in his favour at Ayr in September.
The nagging doubt is whether he will make the cut. No three-year-olds got in the race last year and even one with a mark of 100 like Ekhityaar would have just scraped in, but he’s sure to be declared if fit and that would mean money back.
Should he get a run it’s hard to see how he couldn’t be considerably shorter than the 16-1 available with the sponsors.
Dylan Hill is the editor of the Racing Post Weekender - out every Wednesday