Golden Steps can make the transition to top-class handicapper with victory in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, the feature event on the final day of Ayr’s Western meeting.
Marco Botti’s four-year-old may only have a couple of wins to his name so far but he has been quietly cutting a swathe through the ranks and posted a career-best effort when winning the Stewards’ Cup consolation race at Goodwood last month.
While he was fortunately placed that day in terms of the way the race unfolded, he deserves credit for being in the right spot to take advantage and there was little doubt about his length-and-a-half verdict.
He lines up on a career-high mark of 103 here but is still on the upward curve and having shown the ability to handle a variety of ground, he can be relied upon whether there should be a few showers or dry conditions in Scotland.
Foxtrot Romeo hit the bar in the Silver Cup last year but he can improve on that fourth place in this year’s renewal.
Now with David O’Meara having previously been with Botti, Foxtrot Romeo has promised to win a good prize for a while now and he is with just the trainer to find him such an opportunity.
Eagle Top should really be winning the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury if he is to feature in any of the big autumn feature events. John Gosden’s charge is in the mix for both the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, for which this is an intended trial, and the Champion Stakes at Ascot next month.
While he has not actually won since claiming the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, Eagle Top has turned in some excellent efforts in defeat, finishing fourth in last year’s King George before being edged into second in this year’s renewal.
Beaten just a nose by Postponed, he only relinquished the lead in the final strides and a repeat of that kind of form would put him head and shoulders above his rivals here.
Ribchester chased home Ajaya in the Gimcrack at York and looks a real contender for the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.
He was sent off at odds of 25-1 that day having finished second in a Doncaster maiden on his only previous start, but showed oodles of improvement to be beaten just over a length after a less than ideal run.
Subsequently snapped up by Godolphin, the Iffraaj colt looks capable of making his mark in an event such as this.
Sands Of Fortune can outline his claims for next month’s main event by winning the Betfred Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket.
He ran out a six-length winner at Goodwood and there are certainly few questions about his stamina for this two-and-quarter-mile trip having run in a point-to-point before now.
Sun’Aq is the pick in Michael Richardson 60th Birthday Nursery Handicap at Catterick after bypassing a Group Three entry in favour of this contest, while Templier can strike in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton.
* Selections -
AYR: 1.25 Shawaahid, 2.00 Priceless, 2.35 Foxtrot Romeo, 3.10 Exosphere, 3.45 GOLDEN STEPS (NAP), 4.20 Finn Class, 4.55 Steel Train, 5.30 Entihaa.
CATTERICK: 2.25 Cheeky Angel, 3.00 Sun’aq, 3.35 Carlovian, 4.10 Goathland, 4.45 Classic Villager, 5.20 Coral Queen, 5.55 Charava, 6.25 Khajaaly.
NEWBURY: 1.10 River Echo, 1.45 Eagle Top, 2.15 Ribchester, 2.50 Cymro, 3.25 Steps, 4.00 Storm Rising, 4.35 Be Bold.
NEWMARKET: 2.05 Haggle, 2.40 Shady McCoy, 3.15 Zhui Feng, 3.50 Sands Of Fortune, 4.25 My Dad Syd, 5.00 Distain, 5.35 Keystroke.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.40 Smart Dj, 6.10 Belle Nellie, 6.40 Ypres, 7.10 Oak Forest, 7.40 Kristjano, 8.10 Templier, 8.40 Gang Warfare, 9.10 Monna Valley.
DOUBLE: Golden Steps and Foxtrot Romeo.