Spadework - this week's sprint trilogy up at Ayr....

Last Updated: 14.09.2020

Monday, 14th September 2019

Spadework - this week’s sprint trilogy up at Ayr….

No sooner does one decent race meeting come to a close and another one pops up ahead of us….

This week we’ve got the 3-day Western meeting at Ayr – starting on Thursday and running through to Saturday – to keep us occupied and out of trouble….

The Ayr meeting doesn’t throw up the volume of big handicaps that Glorious Goodwood or York’s Ebor meeting provide us with – but there’s a few decent betting targets all the same….

And with the Dubai Duty Free set to be run at Newbury on Saturday – we’ve got nothing to complain about. Enough is as good as a feast….

Check out upcoming targets….

There are matters of interest arising from the St Leger meeting at Doncaster – and from other C2 handicaps run last week. We’ll get to the meat of those issues as the week moves on….

First, I want to get an early start in on the spadework for the biggest races this week….

  • A unique sprint trilogy….

The Gold Cup is the feature race up at Ayr this weekend – this year’s edition of what is one of Britain’s premier sprint handicaps will be run on Saturday afternoon….

But it’s not the only big-field handicap run over the 6f trip at the tracks’ 3-day Festival….

There’s also the Silver Cup on Saturday’s card and the Bonze Cup which is run on Friday afternoon….

All three races will attract a big field and there will be plenty of live contenders for punters to latch onto at prices....

2017’s Western meeting got wiped out by the weather. The track was waterlogged after a week of heavy rain....

That’s not likely to happen again this year with the ground at the track currently described as good to soft....

  • Taking a consolidated view….

Friday’s Bronze Cup is of obvious interest – if only as a source of advance intelligence….

If any part of the track is providing an advantage to horses, that race will offer an indication ahead of Saturday’s contests....

Not that an advantage apparent on one day can always be entirely relied upon to repeat itself the next....

That’s a subject I’ll get onto in more detail tomorrow. We’ll have a look at how the draw has impacted edition of the three races run over the last several years....

For today, it’s an interesting exercise to lump the three races together and to look at the historical dataset in consolidated form....

All three races are run over the same trip at the same meeting – with horses running in one race (which they end up running in depends ultimately on their official mark and how each race cuts up at the overnight declaration stage) but often aimed at two or even all three events in the run up to the meeting….

It is probably the case that trainers look at the races as a specific set. And, on that basis, it might be informative as a punter to look at them that way too….

  • Yards with a track record….

Looking at the consolidated dataset certainly highlights the yards with the best record of producing winners, placers and competitive runners across the three events….

Nobody can beat Richard Fahey’s record of producing winners in the Ayr sprints….

He’s produced eight since the turn of the century (two Gold Cups, three Silver & three Bronze)....

An additional 22 horses made the front five (with plenty of bookies paying out on the extra place in this trio of races). The whole return – as the table below illustrates – was produced by a total participation of 125 runners....

Richard Fahey

A place strike rate weighing in at just over 24% in races where the average field size is well over 20- amounts to a noteworthy return....

Over the years, Kevin Ryan has produced volume too – and clearly likes to have a crack at this race….

Kevin Ryan

He’s saddled four winners – all of those coming in the Gold Cup. And he’s sent out nine additional placers across all three races….

In terms of quantity – good. But the strike rate isn’t quite up to Fahey’s....

Ryan’s wins and place are the result of having 84 representatives in total in these races since 2000. The place strike rate amounts to 15.5%....

If you’re blasting off shots left, right and centre, it stands to reason that some of them are going to hit the target. Picking out which isn’t always easy for the poor old punter….

  • Squeezing most out of least….

What about the trainers who aren’t quite so well endowed with firepower?

What about trainers who must rely a bit more on their sharp-shooting prowess?

Which yards have done most with least – suggesting their runners are worth more than just a cursory glance this time round?

Well, David O’Meara’s yard isn’t exactly small. But he hasn’t had that many runners in the Ayr sprints – just 32 to date – and a return of one winner and eight placers suggests the potential for fruitfulness going forward....

David O'Meara

Michael Dods is another handler with a decent return from not too many participants. A total representation of 36 runners this century has produced a winner and 12 placers. It’s a record solid enough to suggest he goes to Ayr with competitive horses and plenty of intent....

Michael Dods

Mick Easterby has been frugal with his entries in these races – just 19 since 2000. But they produced a win and four places....

Michael Easterby

And Tom Dascombe is developing a handsome looking record. His 7 participants in the Ayr sprints to date produced 2 winners and 2 placers. You could – and some trainers have – send a few dozen runners into these races before producing a couple of winners and placers. Luck? Possibly. Skill and preparation? Most likely both elements have played a part. Whatever – lucky or skilful – Dascombe’s entries are interesting….

Tom Dascombe

  • An unlikely answer to most questions….

There are not many questions to which Barry McHugh is the right answer....

But if you’re looking for an off-the-radar rider with a track record of strong showings in the big sprint handicaps at Ayr, then Barry McHugh makes the shortlist....

It surprised me too. When you inspect these things, you expect the hierarchical realities of the weighing room to be confirmed....

Most times they are. The leading luminaries are the leading luminaries because they tend do best overall – especially in the big races at the big meetings....

McHugh is the anomaly – at least where this specific trio of races is concerned. His 18 rides to date have yielded three winners and two places – another ride finished 6th....

Statistical aberration? Vagaries of chance? Or does McHugh have some genuine handle on the 6f strip at Ayr that enables him to ride competitive races more frequently than chance says he should?

I can ask the question. But I can’t give you the definitive answer....

All I can do is advise you of the numbers and suggest that whatever McHugh rides in these races (if he rides anything at all) at the weekend is worth the onceover....

Surprisingly, McHugh’s only had one ride in the any of the three Ayr sprints since 2016. Perhaps that’s just how things have fallen – there are always other meeting to ride at….

But you’d think with a record of 3 wins that someone more handlers would get it into their that he might be worth putting up on one and pointing at the winning post?   

  • The final word….

That’s all from me for today....

I’ll be back tomorrow with more handicap-based insight and analysis....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd