Mayson can see off rivals to strike gold
Following Nocturnal Affair's coup in the Portland for David Marnane last week, the Liam McAteer-trained Croisultan is out to claim a second major sprinting handicap for the raiders in today's William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
A massively encouraging third behind Bewitched on soft ground in a Group Three at The Curragh on Sunday, the five-year-old was well supported earlier in the week, and could still be decent each-way value at up to 16/1. With the ground expected to ride on the slow side of good at Ayr, underfoot conditions will certainly be in his favour.
Furthermore, Croisultan's mark of 100 is the lowest that he has run off for over two years, so he should feature prominently on the back of last week's showing. That said, whether he will have enough in hand to win such a competitive race is another thing.
Mac's Power and Hawkeyethenoo are two other sprint regulars that will doubtless be popular, but neither are particularly appealing. Macs Power seems to run all his best races on decent ground, while Hawkeyethenoo is basically an exposed sort.
The one that may still have more to give than he has shown already is Mayson. Twice a winner as a juvenile last term, including on slow ground, Richard Fahey's son of Invincible Spirit has run just seven times, and only once this year at Ripon.
On that occasion, he was an eye-catching third behind Pepper Lane in the Great St Wilfrid last month, a fair debut effort in such a hotly contested handicap. Today, Pepper Lane heads the market, but that one has gone up 29lbs since May, while Mayson is six pounds better off for his four-and-a-quarter-length defeat at Ripon.
When you factor in the two-pound concession that he gets as a three-year-old from his elder rivals in the 27-runner dash, he competes here off a favourable 8st 13lb.
All told, then, if Mayson improves for his reappearance -- and a starting price of 40/1 would suggest that he wasn't strongly fancied in the Gr St Wilfrid -- he will surely play a leading role today under the reigning champion jockey Paul Hanagan. A standout offering of 20/1 looks too big.
In the consolation race for the main event, the Silver Cup, Fethard handler David Nagle saddles Maarek. Not at his par when vanquished behind Below Zero at Dundalk in August, Nagle's four-year-old faces a stiff task here, but he might just be up to it. Crucially, Maarek is best with a cut in the ground, having already won at Navan and The Curragh this year on slow going. Since collecting over five furlongs at headquarters in June, he ran creditably there in defeat in two premier handicaps.
On his penultimate start, his stamina was stretched over seven furlongs at Sligo, though the form of the race has stood up well, with Darasal Wane, a length and a half behind Maarek in third, since winning twice. Refreshed after his Dundalk turn and back over six-furlong's, Nagle's charge could go very close.
Further south at Newbury, Cashel dairy farmer John Grogan's home-bred filly Katla for a tilt at the Group Three Dubai International. Having held Alanza in third when successful at Naas in July, the daughter of Majestic Missile's form reads nicely, but she may still come up short against the classy Deacon Blues.
When the latter hosed up at The Curragh for Johnny Murtagh last time, she was conceding seven pounds to the runner-up Empowering, a horse that Katla bettered by just a short head when in receipt of two pounds at Naas. On that line, then, Deacon Blues, with Frankie Dettori up, should be able to give seven pounds to Katla today.
Also at the Berkshire track, Kirthill, with Katla's jockey Kieren Fallon on board, is worth a look in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap. Luca Cumani's three-year-old ran into a promising sort when second last time and gets in here near the foot of the weights.
Best Bet: Deacon Blues