Horse racing fans are in for an action-packed weekend, with a total of 13 races set to take place across the length and breadth of the UK.
This includes the three-day William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival, where some of the nation’s top runners are expected to compete across 22 races.
Here, we’ll take a look at which races are worth watching this weekend….
Ayr – Friday 21st September
Friday marks the second day of the world famous Gold Cup Festival, with eight superb flat races and a couple of Class I events scheduled. Friday is also Ladies Day, so there’s no better time to visit the Gold Cup Festival and soak in its incredible atmosphere.
The pick of the races here is the Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies’ Sprint Stakes, which is a Class I sprint held over five furlongs. Here, 17 runners are expected to compete for a generous first prize of £28,355.
There are a couple of interesting runners here, including Michael Dods’ talented four-year old horse Intense Romance. She looks set to arrive at Ayr in outstanding form, having won over a similar distance at Haydock earlier in the month and claimed consecutive victories at Carlisle and Sandown.
James Fanshawe’s filly Magical Dreamer is another key contender, with this four-year old horse having won all three of her last starts in handicaps, and embarked on a huge upward curve since June. She was particularly impressive when sprinting away from her rivals at Chelmsford last time out and is also considered to be a strong performer on soft ground.
If you fancy something of an outside bet, you may want to take a punt on Beauty Filly. This three-year old horse is progressing nicely and won well at Hamilton last time out, although she’ll need to raise her level in significantly better company.
Ayr – Saturday 22nd September
There are a host of superb flat races scheduled for the final day of the Ayr Festival, including the iconic Gold Cup.
This Heritage Handicap Class II race will see 25 runners competing for a winners’ cheque of £124,500. The early betting has been relatively conservative here, with no obvious favourite standing out from the crowd. Richard Fahey’s Growl is a possible exception, as this six-year old gelding is a seasoned performer who has pedigree over the flat.
He has certainly performed consistently throughout the summer, placing third in each of his last three outings against some genuine competition. This included an excellent run at Ripon in August, and an early price of 8/1 seems to offer genuine value to punters.
Another potential winner lies in the form of the four-year old colt Son Of Rest, who is currently being touted at odds of around 11/2. This talented runner is certainly expected to be there or thereabouts at the end, particularly after his superb second place finish at Curragh last time out.
The 16/1 shot Aces is also one to watch from an outside perspective, with this Ian Williams-trained gelding having won three of his last three flat outings. While this six-year old trailed home in 14th at Goodwood last time out, he won at Epsom Downs and Newmarket respectively and could therefore mount an outside challenge.
Uttoxeter – Sunday 23rd September
We head to Uttoxeter on Sunday for a promising jump race meeting that will host seven thrilling races.
The standout here is the Moorland Contract Cleaning Ra Bridgewater Memorial Handicap Chase, which is a Class III race that is run over two miles and four furlongs. There are 26 runners competing here, while a prize fund well in excess of £20,000 is on offer for the competitors.
One of the early favourites here is Jovial Joey, who is a seven-year old horse trained by Maurice Barnes’ stable. He will certainly start in outstanding form, having won over a similar distance at Perth in August and claimed three consecutive third place finishes over the hurdles prior to this.
Another promising horse is the eight-year old gelding Theo, who has been trained by Dr. Richard Newland. This contender has won his last two outings at Worcester and also managed to place third at Doncaster in a competitive field at the beginning of the year.
This should be a keenly contested race, and one where each-ways bets may offer the best value to punters.