Ayr Gold Cup Day Betting Tips - 21st September 2019

The festival action moves north of the border as we head into the autumn months each year, as the home of the Scottish Grand National lays on its major flat event of the season. Held over three days, the Ayr Gold Cup meeting is a hugely popular event with fans and trainers alike.

The title race of the festival takes centre stage on what is a bumper eight race card on the Saturday. With a host of big field handicapping action, and a classy Group 3 contest for the fillies providing ample support, there’s good reason that this is one of Scotland’s biggest race days. We have eight races to pore over, which means eight winners to find, and here we give it our best shot.

About the Ayr Gold Cup Festival

Ayr Racecourse Straight

Mention the words ‘Gold Cup’ to horse racing fans and their minds will immediately jump to the centrepiece of the Cheltenham Festival, run every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. There are a number of races with the same title, however, and the one run at Ayr in September is one of the standout ones.

It also comes in the middle of a festival of racing, this time one that is named in its honour and was previous known as the Western Meeting. Three days of racing that sees the best jockeys, trainers and horses in flat racing descend upon the Scottish course to take part in some truly special races, all of which culminate in the Ayr Gold Cup itself. We’ll have a look at the Festival overall on this page, but we’ll concentrate on Gold Cup day as that’s the truly standout moment of the weekend.

Ayr Gold Cup Festival Race List

Let’s start by looking at the three days of racing in a more general fashion. The Festival, which is the richest flat racing meeting in Scotland, is split over Doonside Cup Day on the Thursday, Ladies Day on the Friday and then Gold Cup Day on Saturday, meaning that there’s ample opportunity to watch some special races over the course of the Festival.

As with any other race meeting, the races that take place and the order that they’re run in can change with little notice, so make sure you check the official race card on the day. With that in mind, a quick look at the racecards for three days of racing in 2019.

RacePrize MoneyAges
Day One – Doonside Cup Day
EBF Novice Stakes £10,400 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Cala Homes Handicap £11,600 3 Years Old +
Jimmy Lawrie Memorial Handicap £8,100 3 Years Old +
Western House Handicap £8,100 3 Years Old +
Doonside Cup Stakes £65,000 3 Years Old +
EBF Fillies' Handicap £14,100 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares
Ayrshire Handicap £8,100 3 Years Old +
S.T. Andrew Plant Hire Handicap £8,100 3 Years Old +
Day Two – Ladies Day
EBF Novice Stakes £10,400 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Shadwell Nursery Handicap £25,000 2 Years Old
Harry Rosebery Stakes £40,000 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
Fillies' Sprint Stakes £50,000 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares
Ayr Bronze Cup Handicap £30,000 3 Years Old +
BAM Properties Handicap £16,000 4 Years Old +
H&V Handicap (Div I) £8,600 3 Years Old
H&V Handicap (Div II) £8,600 3 Years Old
Day Three – Ayr Gold Cup Day
EBF Nursery Handicap £20,000 2 Years Old (EBF Eligible)
William Hill Handicap £30,000 3 Years Old +
Ayr Silver Cup Handicap £60,000 3 Years Old +
Firth Of Clyde Stakes £65,000 2 Year Old Fillies
Ayr Gold Cup £200,000 3 Years Old +
William Hill Handicap £25,000 3 Years Old +
Microtech Group Handicap £15,000 3 Years Old +
Jordan Electrics Handicap £18,000 3 Years Old +

The Ayr Gold Cup Meeting Races in Detail

Obviously the Gold Cup is the key race of the meeting, given that it’s the one that lends its name to the festival, but there are a number of other races worthy of your attention also run over the course of the three days.

The Doonside Cup is the centrepiece of the first day on Thursday. Friday brings Ladies Day and as with other Ladies Days that take place around the country, it is as much about the glitz and glamour off the course as it is the racing that takes place on it. The key race on the middle day is quite fittingly the Fillies' Sprint Stakes.

Whilst the first two days have plenty to recommend about them, Ayr Gold Cup day on Saturday is unquestionably the moment that everyone’s been waiting for. The Gold Cup sits in the centre of an excellent day of racing.

Here we’ll have a look at the feature races of the meeting, giving you whatever pertinent information we think is worth mentioning.

The Ayr Gold Cup

Where else to start, though, thank with a look at the feature race of the entire weekend? The Ayr Gold Cup was first run in 1804 at Belleisle, the racecourse that used to exist in Ayr before the current one. Back then it was a chance to show off the best and brightest of Scottish racing, being restricted as it was to horses that had been bred and trained north of the border.

It also used to be two races rather than one, run over two miles in each heat. It was then shortened to being a single two-mile race. It was made a handicap offering in 1855 and shortened further to a mile in 1870. When the Belleisle track was closed down in 1907 the race was relocated, being shortened to its current length the following year.

Currently the Ayr Gold Cup is run on the straight over six furlongs and is open to horses aged three and over. It’s run on the flat, of course, which is one of the biggest differences between it and the race of the same name that takes place at Cheltenham. It’s also a handicap race, meaning that the weights are decided by the handicapper.

Since it was made into a sprint the lightest weight of a winner was six stone and thirteen pound, carried by Marmaduke Jinks in 1936. Conversely, the heaviest weight was the ten stone that Roman Warrior won with in 1975. Roman Warrior was a fitting winner considering the race’s early rules, given that he was trained in Scotland and was the last winner of the race to be so.

The maximum number of horses that are allowed to enter the race at the time of writing is twenty-seven, with the highest-weighted horses getting the honour. Those that don’t get to enter the race are invited to take part in the Ayr Silver Cup, which is also run during the Festival and was established in 1992. Even that race left some horses out, though, so the Ayr Bronze Cup was created in 2009 as a consolation race for the consolation race.

Since 1980 only one horse has won the race once, with Funfair Wane doing so in 2002 and 2004. If you look at the all-time records, however, then Dazzle holds the record for wins, managing to do so three times between 1889 and 1891. If you’re looking for a hint about how horses will do in this race then look to the Stewards' Cup, run at Goodwood earlier in the summer. Lochsong in 1992 and Coastal Bluff in 1996 are examples of horses that won both in the same season.

Equally, if you’re hoping to learn something from the race then look out for horses that win it and then enter the Nunthorpe Stakes at York the following year. Both Lochsong and Coastal Bluff as well as Bahamian Pirate won this race before winning the Nunthorpe Stakes; though it’s worth acknowledging that the first two horses did so the following year whilst Bahamian Pirate won this in 2000 and then the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2004.

The leading jockeys for the race are ones that haven’t been racing for some time, given that Tom Nicholson won his four Gold Cups between 1827 and 1834 and William Noble won the same number between 1836 and 1843. In more modern times Darryll Holland, Frankie Dettori, Jimmy Fortune, and John Lowe have all won the race twice apiece.

There’s also a standout trainer for the race if you’re willing to delve into the history books, given that Tom Dawson trained the winner fifteen times between 1835 and 1869. Again, a number of trainers have won the race twice or more in the modern era, including Richard Hannon Sr., Richard Fahey and Peter Easterby, yet it’s David Nicholls who leads the way with six wins between 2000 and 2010.

Doonside Cup

Thursday’s feature race is the Doonside Cup, which is a Listed race for horses aged three and over. It’s run left-handed over one mile and two furlongs, boasting the following weight information:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 7 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • Fillies get a 5 pound allowance
  • Group 1 and Group 2 race winners get a penalty of 10 pounds
  • Group 3 race winners get a penalty of 7 pounds
  • Listed race winners get a penalty of 4 pounds

Those penalties for horses that have won other races probably explain why only one has won it twice since 1988. Island House did it in 2000 and 2002, having a different jockey each time. It would be an exaggeration to suggest that the race welcomes the great and good of flat racing, but if you’re looking for a clue then it might be worth having a look at the likes of the Prix de Pomone and the Prix Vermeille, given that Leggara won both of them in 1998 before victory in the Doonside Cup in 1999.

Whilst famous flat racing jockeys like Willie Carson, Richard Hills, Danny Tudhope and Daryll Holland have all won the race more than once, is a race really part of the flat racing circuit if Frankie Dettori’s name isn’t on the winners’ list? It certainly is with the Doonside Cup, leading the way with four wins between 1990 and 2010.

It’s a similar story for the race’s most successful trainers, give that Andrew Balding, Geoff Wragg and John Dunlop have all trained the race’s winner more than once, yet none get close to the five wins managed by Saeed bin Suroor between 2004 and 2016.

Harry Rosebery Stakes

This Listed flat race is named in honour of Harry Primrose, who was the 6th Earl of Rosebery and was a notable racehorse owner in the twentieth century. It’s run on the straight over five furlongs and is limited to horses aged two. The weight information is as follows:

  • Weight: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies & mares get a 5 pound allowance
  • Group race winners get a penalty of 5 pound
  • Listed race winners get a penalty of 3 pound

Obviously the fact that it’s limited to two-year-olds means that no horse has ever won it twice, though the same is not true for jockeys. Paul Hanagan, John Carroll and Graham Lee have all won the race twice, whilst Tom Eaves leads the way thanks to wins in 2005, 2007 and 2013. Richard Hannon Sr., Richard Fahey and Karl Burke are the race’s most successful trainers, winning it twice each to date.

Arran Scottish Fillies' Sprint Stakes

This Listed flat race is limited to mares and fillies aged three and over, though Group 1 winners since the 31st of March are excluded from being able to enter it. Run on the straight over five furlongs and one hundred and ten yards, it has the following weight information attached:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 12 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 0 pounds
  • Group 2 winners since March 31st get a penalty of 7 pounds
  • Group 3 winners get a penalty of 5 pounds
  • Listed race winners get a penalty of 3 pounds

The race should have been run for the first time in 2017 at Ayr but couldn’t because the course was waterlogged. As a result it was moved to Musselburgh in October, where Mabs Cross won it over the slightly shorter distance of five furlongs, with Paul Mulrennan on her back and Michael Dods taking training duty.

Dods was also the trainer of the 2018 winner, Intense Romance. The four-year-old was ridden by Callum Rodriguez and took around eleven seconds longer to complete the race than Mabs Cross had done because it was ridden over the race’s correct length. Mabs Cross won the Palace House Stakes and the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2018, earning herself the Cartier Champion Sprinter award. She won the Palace House Stakes again in 2019.

Firth of Clyde Stakes

The Firth of Clyde Stakes is run over six furlongs on the straight and is open to two-year-old fillies. The weight information says that the horses carry nine stone, though Group 1 and Group 2 race winners also get a penalty of five pounds whilst Group 3 race winners get a penalty of three pounds.

The Firth of Clyde, which lends its name to the race’s title, is an area of water just off the coast of Ayr. The race was Listed initially and then moved to Group 3 in 2004. It has maintained that rating since and is the only Group race that is run in Scotland at the time or writing.

The race has, rather obviously given the age limit, never been won more than once by the same horse. Perhaps the best known of those that have won it is Airwave, who won the Firth of Clyde Stakes in 2002 and the Cheveley Park Stakes the same year. She went on to win the Temple Stakes at Haydock Park the year after, the Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes in 2004 and the Ridgewood Pearl Stakes at Curragh in 2005.

Prior to the 2019 running, only three jockeys had won the race twice. They were Keiron Fallon, Paul Mulrennan and, of course, Frankie Dettori. Roger Charlton and Bryan Smart have both trained more than one winner, but Barry Hills saw a horse he had trained win the race four different times in the 1980s and 1990s to lead the win as far as the most successful trainer is concerned.