Brando (far right) comes through to take the lead in the Ayr Gold Cup
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Ayr, Saturday
William Hill Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) 6f, 3yo+
BRANDO enhanced Kevin Ryan’s excellent record in the Ayr Gold Cup when keeping on strongly to deny well-supported favourite Growl in a race dominated by horses drawn low.
Brando, who broke from stall eight under Tom Eaves, was Ryan’s fourth winner of the Ayr Gold Cup in the past ten years, following wins for Advanced (2007), Our Jonathan (2011) and Captain Ramius (2012).
The Ayr Silver Cup was won earlier in the afternoon by Roudee who had also broken from stall eight and it was clear from an early stage, when the runners gravitated towards the far side, that those drawn high in the Ayr Gold Cup were at a disadvantage.
Growl, drawn six, finished second, veteran Hoof It was third from stall seven, while G Force fared best of those drawn in double-figures, coming home fourth having emerged from stall 11.
How the race was won
Nameitwhatyoulike, representing in-form trainer Bryan Smart, was sent straight to the front from his low draw by acclaimed apprentice Adam McNamara and still held every chance as the field approached the final furlong.
However, the challengers were stacking up and Growl, the 4-1 favourite, was delivered with a threatening challenge at the furlong pole.
Brando, who travelled strongly in mid-division, was switched left to make his challenge on the far-side flank and he quickened sharply when asked, establishing a decisive advantage which he maintained to register an authoritative one-and-a-quarter-length success.
A delighted Eaves said: “I was happy where we were drawn and I wanted to be patient and get him switched off. It was all pretty smooth and he was class all the way.
“It means a hell of a lot to win a race like this. These big races races are not easy to win and it’s brilliant. It’s up up there with anything I have done.”
Brando had contested the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on his previous outing, where he came home in mid-division behind Mecca’s Angel, and connections may yet be tempted to have another crack at the highest level with the progressive four-year-old, who put up one of the best performances in this race’s illustrious history to defy joint-top weight and win from a mark of 110.
“This is one of the hardest races to win as it’s so condensed now you need a 100-rated horse to get in,” Ryan said. “One thing about this horse is that he was bringing proper good form into the race – that’s what it takes to win this race, you don’t win it with a handicapper any more.”
Despite the apparent draw bias, the form has a solid look to it as Growl had shaped well when finishing placed in the Stewards’ Cup on his latest outing, while Hoof It and G Force, both Group 1 winners, were well-handicapped based on the pick of their efforts.
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