IT is five years since David O’Meara saddled Louis The Pious to win the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup – and the North Yorkshire trainer fires a formidable five-pronged assault on this year’s renewal at the Scottish track.
Stable jockey Danny Tudhope rides Arecibo, who is joined by Gulliver (Jason Hart), Summerghand (David Nolan), Cold Stare (Robbie Downey) and Intisaab (Angus Villiers).
O’Meara said: “They’ve all been running away all year and have nothing to hide.
“Summerghand has been running well in good races all season, and Arecibo ran very well to finish a close-up fourth in the Portland at Doncaster last week. He is 50 per cent owned by Clipper Logistics, so Danny is contracted to ride him.
“Gulliver ran well to finish third in Ireland last week, and Intisaab was a good third at Doncaster.
“Cold Stare hasn’t run since winning in very heavy ground at Haydock back in early June. He is fairly ground dependent – the softer the ground the better his chance.”
Kevin Ryan saddles two runners in a bid to claim his fifth victory in the race, with Major Jumbo and Hey Jonesy both featuring in the 25-strong field.
“If Hey Jonesy could recapture some of his best form he should run a big race,” said the Hambleton trainer whose Brando, victorious in 2016, went on to become a Group One sprinter.
“Major Jumbo is fresh and well. We know he’s a quick horse, and he’s a Listed winner this year – he’s a good horse in his own right.”
Staxton will be a big price, but Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby hopes he can outrun his odds.
He said: “I went for an even number (drawn four). I spoke to David (Allan, jockey), and he just drifts a little bit left. I walked the course and I think it’s going to be perfect ground by Saturday and I don’t think there will be any draw bias.
“The horse is in good form. He gets the six furlongs really well and nearly gets seven. I think Ayr will suit him.”
Champion jockey-elect Oisin Murphy travels north to partner Gunmetal for Thirsk’s David Barron.
The grey was not beaten far into sixth place in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot when Murphy was last on board – and he is fitted with blinkers for the first time.
Murphy said: “I rode him at Ascot and I thought he was a bit unlucky – I was on the wrong side. David Barron does very well in this sort of race.
“My agent and I spoke about it, and I thought this was a good opportunity.”
Michael Dods hopes the rapidly-improving Dakota Gold will handle a combination of quick ground and a return to five furlongs in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy at Newbury.
Already the winner this season of two valuable handicaps at York, the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon and a Listed race back on the Knavesmire, Dakota Gold takes the next step up the ladder to Group Three company.