In horse racing terms, it’s a short race compared to the Grand National – the Gold Cup takes about seventy seconds from pillar to post compared with the four minutes the National takes – and a safer one, so if you back a horse you can expect it to finish. How can you best go about turning your free bet into a winning one? Read on to find out.
What you need to know about Ayr Gold Cup odds
The largest field allowed at the Gold Cup is 27 horses. This makes it one of the largest flat races anywhere in the UK, and it means that there are always several horses with a realistic chance to win the race. The size of the field also tends to mean that there is a strong possibility that an “outsider” will win, with three of the last 10 winners being priced at 16/1 or longer ante-post.
As the race is over just six furlongs, it is less of an endurance race than other major events such as the Grand National. As such it is considered more a marathon than a sprint, and will usually favour younger, more powerful horses. There is a secondary race for horses put forward to run but not selected due to their smaller size, called the Silver Cup.
With a smaller field than the Grand National, Ayr Gold Cup runners odds tend to be shorter for the favourite, with odds around 3/1 not unheard of. However, only twice in the last 30 years has the pre-race favourite won this race; so don’t feel daunted if your pre-race selection is at longer odds. If they are at the starting line, they have a chance to win.
The “going” (racing terminology for the firmness of the turf on-course) for the Gold Cup can be expected to be soft, as the race takes place in Scotland in September. Indeed, the winning Ayr Gold Cup 2017 runner, Donjuan Triumphant, actually won in Haydock in northern England, where the race was moved due to waterlogging at Ayr. Horses who prefer hard ground are at a disadvantage in Ayr.
What to look for in Ayr Gold Cup runners odds
A cursory look at an odds comparison website for any major competition will tend to show the favourite as having odds that are short – usually at the longest, they’ll be less than 10/1. What is interesting about recent Ayr Gold Cup races is that only twice in the last decade has the winner been at shorter odds than that.
Partly thanks to the number of horses in the field (Donjuan Triumphant, who was at 13/2 in Ayr Gold Cup 2017 betting, won in a smaller field of 17), the majority of winners in this race have tended to be at longer odds than would be expected for most races. This pattern suggests that if a horse with a promising record is available at odds between 10/1 and 20/1, it’s a bet worth making.
To go further, it is worth noting that no horse has won at odds longer than 33/1 any time in the last thirty years. It’s not impossible for them to win, but the rank outsiders in the bookies’ estimation are probably not going to offer much value. However, they may still be worth deploying a free bet on – especially if those odds seem unreasonably long – not least because even a free £1 bet will return a tidy profit.
Of course, with more than 20 horses involved in the race, it is hard to accurately predict the winner every time – but with careful analysis of the horses’ qualities, you will stand a better chance.
Don’t understand a word of what we’ve just said? No panic, just check out our horse racing for dummies guide.
What kind of horse wins the Ayr Gold Cup?
Horse racing is perhaps second only to golf in terms of the difficulty in predicting a winner before the contest starts. Unlike a golf tournament, however, a horse race is over in minutes and not generally something you can bet on in-play. Therefore, there is a higher level of jeopardy to picking a horse to win, and even consistently successful bettors will back a loser on a somewhat regular basis. However, with certain elements of knowledge, you can increase your chances of a successful bet.
Taking as an example the Ayr Gold Cup entries 2017 offered, the successful horse was an Irish-trained 4-year-old. The trainer, Andrew Balding, won previously in 2013, again with an Irish-trained runner. Some of these details may sound incidental, but looking at past winners you can see patterns emerging.
Irish-trained horses fare well over the soft going at Ayr, as their home ground in Ireland tends to be similarly moist. Jockeys who have won before frequently win again; of the last 10 winners, only two jockeys have just a single win each. Horses of three years and older can enter the Gold Cup, and Don’t Touch was three-years-old when he won in 2015, but the last three-year-old to win before him was Funfair Wane in 2002.
In short, a horse who was trained by an Irish trainer, has been eligible for more than a year and is ridden by a former winning jockey, stands a good chance to win the Ayr Gold Cup. The first two points may describe a lot of horses – Ireland is famed as a breeding ground for great horses – but the third point will narrow it down significantly. Find a horse who meets the above description and has odds of more than 10/1, and if you bet £10 you stand a good chance of profiting in the three figures.
Where to find the best racing tips for Ayr
The Ayr Gold Cup does not attract the same level of attention as races such as its Cheltenham counterpart, the Grand National, nor the Epsom Derby. It is seen more as a race for the enthusiast, which can be daunting for a first-time bettor, but needn’t be. This relative lack of fanfare means that when you read racing tips for Ayr, you are liable to find greater knowledge and accuracy.
No tipster gets it right every time; if they did, they would retire from offering racing tips in the sporting press and live out their days somewhere warm and sunny, increasing their winnings exponentially every time they placed a bet. Nonetheless, people who make a living from offering racing tips are right more often than most, and they will usually be employed by newspapers and magazines who have a speciality in the sport.
Britain’s premier horse racing paper is the Racing Post, and you will find useful tips for the races that matter – and even the less vaunted ones – in there, as well as in the daily newspapers, with experienced followers of the sport agreeing that the Sun, Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph offer the best coverage consistently. Online, the Sporting Life is a site run under the banner of the former gold-standard racing form paper, and will also have good in-depth analysis.
The best Ayr Gold Cup betting operators
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How to find the best Ayr Gold Cup betting offers
With events such as the Grand National, some bookmakers suspend their free bet offers for new customers – as so many people decide to bet for the first time on the occasion of Britain’s most-storied horse race. The Ayr Gold Cup is not as much of a headline event, so the bookmakers are less protective of the free bets they tend to offer year-round. So if you are looking to bet on this event you can be confident of having free bets to take advantage of.
Equally, while it may not have a major impact beyond the racing and betting worlds, the Gold Cup is still a big deal within those communities, so you are liable to find plenty of Ayr Gold Cup betting offers from a range of bookmakers. It is worth shopping around to find the best free offers – most will be offered on the understanding that you either have an active account or that you fund and bet a certain amount before you get a free bet. If this is the case, then it’s wise to use one bet to back a horse with a good chance of winning, and the free one to pick a second choice. This dramatically increases your chances of a win.
If the terms of the free bet demand that you place one bet on an event before the Ayr Gold Cup, then look for a market you’re confident in – whether that be football, rugby or anything else – and place a bet there, then use your free bet on a horse that meets the description offered earlier on.
Best bookmakers for Ayr Gold Cup offers
The Ayr Gold Cup is a horse race that offers quite a few attractions to the horse racing novice. It is short, so whether you win or lose, you only have to worry about your blood pressure for the seventy seconds it takes to run. As it is run without the same fanfare most races command, you’ll have less information to plough through before making your decision. On top of this, betting offers made by bookmakers are plentiful.
Choosing the right bookmaker(s) for you may be tricky, as there will be offers on the table from most of the available choices in the market from the big high street names to the online specialists. Most of these offers will be well worth looking at, but some will inevitably be more persuasive than others. Bookmakers with a more time-honoured reputation in the sport should, in all likelihood, be your first port of call.
Option 1: BetVictor
Although there are more established names in the industry, Victor Chandler’s firm have a reputation for excellent Ayr Gold Cup betting offers. These offers include a free bet of much higher value than your initial bet when you join up, as long as the odds on your first bet are evens or higher. Look for any bet you’re confident of winning with at those odds or longer – for reference, an away win for a top football side against a mid-table one is likely to qualify – and bet £10. In 2017, BetVictor would have rewarded that with a £30 free bet on the Gold Cup. Imagine that coming off at odds of 16/1!
BetVictor have a generally positive reputation for offering fair odds, too, and a bet placed with them can be expected to offer good value by comparison with others in the market. Even a bet placed on a winning Gold Cup favourite should end up paying off in a big way.
Option 2: Ladbrokes
Few bookmakers can match the all-round reputation to which Ladbrokes can lay claim. They are one of the most prominent bookies in the UK, have shops in most towns and cities and a thriving online platform, and in 2017’s Gold Cup market they stood head and shoulders above most competition.
Placing a bet of up to £50 qualified bettors – new and old alike – for an equal value free bet on the Gold Cup. Admittedly, £50 is a big figure, but the qualifying limit for the triggering bet was any value at or above 1/2 – or 1.50 in decimal odds. So to qualify for the equal value bet, you simply need to bet on a (highly likely) outcome, probably bank the winnings for that, and then place your free bet on a horse running in the Gold Cup. You probably don’t need it explained to you that a Gold Cup winner on a £50 stake would mean big winnings.
Option 3: William Hill
A name with an unmatched pedigree in the horse racing world, William Hill is the betting shop most bettors will go to with their Gold Cup bet, and while their free bet offers will vary – as will most bookies’ – one thing in their favour is the “Best Odds Guaranteed” offer. No matter what the price when you place your bet, you’ll receive the best possible odds when it comes to the race itself. Given that Donjuan Triumphant varied between 13/2 and 12/1 prior to the 2017 race, that’s an attractive offer.
Bookmakers with artificially stingy odds don’t tend to build the kind of reputation Hills have with the betting community, so you can be confident of finding value on the Ayr Gold Cup with them – and the potential for those odds to lengthen prior to the race means that value will only grow, no matter when you place the bet.
There’s no reason for your Gold Cup bet to fall flat
While “bigger” races may bring the carnival atmosphere that attracts novice bettors in a way other races will not, the Ayr Gold Cup is perhaps a more worthwhile option for your first free bets on horse racing. The generous odds mean that any winning bet will likely come with a handsome payout, while the bonuses offered by prominent bookmakers can allow you to turn a good tip into a great one. As with any other race, if you have the funds to spare, signing up for more free bonuses and spreading your bets is a sound strategy – and with the right information to hand, you can make an informed bet with all the more confidence.
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