Having posted a strong of solid efforts this season, Summerghand makes plenty of each-way appeal in the prestigious and valuable 6f Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday (15:50).
This David O’Meara trained five-year-old caught the eye in no uncertain fashion when staying on strongly to finish a never nearer three-length fifth of 26 to Cape Byron in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot off a mark of 100.
He then ran well to finish third to Danzeno in a conditions contest at Haydock, before finishing a cracking 3 3/4 lengths fourth of 27 to handicap blot Khaadem in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.
The son of Lope De Vega then found only Dakota Gold too good when a 2 1/4 lengths runner-up in the 17-runner Great St Wilfrid at Ripon, again off a mark of 100.
Summerghand raced on the unfavoured far side and was attempting to give 1lb to the winner, who is a thriving sort that has won twice since and landed the four-timer in a Listed race at York earlier in the month to be rated 110.
That gives the form a rock solid look in relation to this. It also suggests a revised rating of 102 for Summerghand is more than fair.
He also has a 24 per cent strike rate over the trip, has been placed over course and distance, and proven winning form on the ground.
Summerghand’s form in big field handicaps is another plus, and he appeals as the ideal type for this test. So, at best odds of 10/1 with Ladbrokes, he looks solid each-way value.
Buffer Zone a worthy favourite in Ayr Gold Cup
Irish raider Buffer Zone is a progressive sort who is ahead of the assessor, so looks a worthy market leader at 11/2 with Bethard.
This four-year-old has taken his form to a new level this season since leaving Roger Chalrton and joining Ger Lyons.
After showing tenacious battling qualities to land a 16-runner handicap at The Curragh by a short-head on seasonal debut, Buffer Zone found only Verhoyan three-quarters of a length too strong in a hot Premier Handicap at the same venue off 8lb higher.
The son of top sprinter Bated Breath was then far from disgraced when pitched into Group 3 company and finishing a 3 1/2 lengths fifth to Gustavus Weston on unsuitable soft ground.
Buffer Zone has since resumed winning ways at The Curragh six days ago when beating Make A Challenge by 1 3/4 lengths in another Premier Handicap off a mark of 99.
He travelled smoothly throughout that day and, after taking up the running two from home, stayed on strongly to be well on top at the finish.
It was a career-best performance and connections have wisely decided to turn out the thriving Buffer Zone under a 5lb penalty.
He’s due to race off a rating of 107 in the future, so that means that he is 3lb well-in at the weights.
That makes Buffer Zone very much the one to beat, but his Ayr Gold Cup odds reflect that and look plenty short enough in such an ultra-competitive contest. For that reason alone, he looks worth taking on.
Gunmetal has a shout
In a Heritage Handicap where a case can be made for most of the 25 runners, Gunmetal is another that looks weighted to make his presence felt.
This David Barron trained six-year-old won three of his six starts last season, with the last of those successes coming in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon where he made all and ran on strongly to easily beat Dakota Gold by 2 3/4 lengths off a mark of 97.
Prior to that, Gunmetal had run well in the ultra-competitive Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood when a 3 3/4 lengths 11th of 26 to Gifted Master off a rating of 98.
The son of Clodovil has also posted some solid efforts in six starts this season without yet getting his head in front.
In the second of those at York, Gunmetal ran on strongly to finish a never nearer 1 3/4 lengths fourth of 19 to Duke Of Firenze off a mark of 103.
He backed that up with an excellent three-length sixth of 26 to Cape Byron in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot off the same rating, and was far from disgraced when 15th of 27 to Khaadem in the Stewards’ Cup this year.
Gunmetal is now able to race off a rating of 101. That gives him every chance from a handicapping perspective on the pick of his form.
He also has his favoured fast ground and the services in the saddle of champion jockey elect Oisin Murphy.
At odds of 25/1 with Betfair, who pay six places, Gunmetal thus looks another worth considering each-way in a typically fierce renewal.
Bacchus a lively outsider
Off those at massive odds, the Brian Meehan trained Bacchus looks capable of hitting the frame in a race where most bookmakers are offering enhanced place terms.
This five-year-old enjoyed his finest hour when running on gamely to beat Dreamfield by a neck in last year’s Wokingham at Royal Ascot off a mark of 105.
Bacchus backed that up with a fine 1 3/4 lengths fourth to Yafta in a Group 3 at Newbury off an official rating of 110 and is now able to race off 106. It makes him a player at the weights.
Although the son of Kheleyf failed to fire in his sole start this season in the Wokingham, he was sent off just 12/1 that day – so a better run was clearly expected.
Bacchus has since been given a 96-day break and been dropped 2lb, so given the fact that he has a good record fresh it would be folly to rule him out from what is a workable mark.
He can be backed at 25/1 with Unibet, who also pay six places, and there are far worse outsiders in the race.
Hence Bacchus is put up as another potential each-way punt in the 2019 Ayr Gold Cup completing our preview.