Getting home in the ground is going to be an ability that will count in spades and DARTMOUTHlooks the most likely lad for this contest. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old has improved this season and showed his ability to stay when outpointing Wicklow Brave over an extended mile and five in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester in May and then followed up with a brave victory from Highland Reel in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. There was little wrong with his performance on fast ground in the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July when finishing fourth to Highland Reel and he looks capable of giving 5lb and more to these rivals.
Ralph Beckett has his team in great order and BLETCHLEY gets the nod in this Group event. The Makfi filly was beaten only a head by Brave Anna in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and may have found the ground fast than she likes when sixth, beaten only three lengths, to Roly Poly in the Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket in July. She has been given plenty of time in between and should well return to winning form at the expense of the improving Partitia.
There was plenty to like about LEGENDARY LUNCH’s performance in the Flying Childers at Doncaster eight days ago when he finished strongly to be beaten only three quarters of a length by Ardad and the step up back up to six furlongs looks ideal. The Richard Hannon-trained colt showed he handled soft ground when winning the Woodcote Stakes over six furlongs at Epsom in June and he could prove too strong for title chasing Jim Crowley on Medici Bunchier.
The draw appeared to favour those drawn low in yesterday’s Bronze Cup and it will be interesting to see if that bias remains the same today. Flying a little in the wind of that consideration I hope to see GEORGE BOWEN from stall 16 and make up for an unlucky draw in the race 12 months ago. The grey gelded son of Dark Angel was bidding for a hat trick and was carrying a penalty for a victory at the Curragh six days earlier when beaten a head by Tatlisu off a mark of 95 where the winner, third and fourth were drawn, respectively, 4,3 and 2. The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old has yet to win this season but has threatened on several occasions and is now on a mark where he can do some damage. Fahey, as always, is strongly represented in this contest and could also have a bearing on the result with the Adam McNamara-ridden Stamp Hill but the call is for George Bowen.
Stamina could well prove a premium in this tricky contest and it may prove to stick to the unquestionable staying powers of the progressive SCARLET DRAGON. The Eve Johnson Hougton-trained gelding returned to winning form when beating Corinthian over a mile and a half here on good to soft ground and has improved out of recognition since. He was racing off a mark of 92 when readily accounting for Dark Red by two and three quarter lengths over an extended ten furlongs at York’s Ebor meeting and, although raised 7lb for that victory, his trainer offset’s that rise with the services of useful 5lb claimer Holly Doyle.
The only blip on GARCIA’s progressive career was when flopping in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot and, with the Richard Fahey team in red hot form, he is fancied to resume winning ways. The Paco Boy gelding made a winning reappearance over seven and a half furlong at Beverley in April when beating Arab Poet a length and three quarters and followed up with a head defeat of Chief Whip in the Silver Bowl over a mile at Haydock in May. He has shown he can run up to his best after a break and he looks backable at odds of around 4-1.
There are doubts over several of these on the ground and the percentage call has to be the improved RIDGE RANGER. Eric Alston’s mare has been a model of consistency and gained her first Group success when beating Besharah a length and three quarters at York in July. Her most recent effort when failing by only three quarters of a length to another progressive sort in Mehronnissa in a listed contest at Pontefract in August when conceding 9lb looks smart and she can return to winning form.
GROWL may look a little short at 4-1 for the highlight of the Ayr card but there is no escaping the fact that he put up an eyecatching performance in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood and his owner Marwin Koukash and trainer Richard Fahey have mapped him out for this event since. The Oasis Dream gelding quickened up impressively after being denied a clear run and finished best of all to be beaten only a length and a half into fourth place by Dancing Star. He had previously over seven furlongs and that be extra string to his bow in a race where they should be winging from the word go. Fahey appeared happy enough with his draw when nominating stall 6 earlier in the week and Growl will have been trained to the minute for this assignment.