MASHAM STAR (4.10) can throw in the odd shocker but he is undeniably well treated if on a going day at Ayr.
A year ago Mark Johnston’s gelding ran third in the valuable Haydock Silver Bowl off a rating of 101. Masham Star is down to 86 here having been dropped another 2lb by the handicapper. He ran much better than his 12th position suggests behind Ripp Orf in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, having led his group for a long way on the ‘wrong’ side of the track away from the main action.
On his only previous visit to Ayr Masham Star won by four lengths on fast ground and he is just the type to run up a sequence if re-discovering his old form. One firm put him up at 5-1 around teatime last night but that soon disappeared.
Gordon Elliott lifted the lady riders’ 1m 5f handicap on the card last year and the prize can return to Ireland courtesy of Adrian Keatley’s NORTHERN SKY (5.45).
The gelding raced in Scotland a couple of seasons ago, finishing runner-up to Wotabreeze at Hamilton over a shorter trip. Northern Sky stayed 1m 4f no problem last time out at Tipperary when again finding one too good and Keatley’s Ayr raids are always worth scrutiny.
Abbie McCain is one of my favourite lady amateurs and she gets the leg-up on R Mike Smith’s Archibelle. The filly has been in good form over two miles on the all-weather at Newcastle and she should go well at her local track.
Calliope’s third to Ingleby Hollow at Wetherby was a fine effort and she’ll go close if handling this faster surface. Carthage has his first run for Mick Appleby since a switch from Brian Ellison and Serena Brotherton is an eye-catching booking.
My other bets are all of a fairly speculative each-way nature at big prices, but a case can be made for all of them.
KIWI BAY (2.35) won a 1m 1f apprentice handicap here 12 months ago off a mark of 66 but is down to 55, with Paula Muir now taking off 7lb.
WARRIOR’S SPIRIT (3.05) was never in the hunt when ninth behind Nature Boy at Beverley but drops in class on the back of a 5lb reduction in his official rating. A year ago this month David O’Meara’s gelding ran fourth to Fire Brigade at Newmarket off 81 and now has an official mark of 60. Danny Tudhope replaces an apprentice.
BEAUDEN BARRETT (3.35) split the Keith Dalgleish-trained duo Maulesden May and Somnambulist here last August and is 5lb lower. His trainer John Quinn remains in very good form.
ZIHAAM (5.15) represents Roger Fell, another trainer in tip-top form, and last week’s fourth to Regal Mirage at Hamilton is looking better on the back of that winner’s excellent fourth to Reverend Jacobs at York last week in a very competitive Class 4 handicap.