You have to feel for the team at Ayr Racecourse after the decision to cancel the Western Meeting on the basis of a waterlogged stretch of ground.
It’s their biggest meeting of the year and for me, a fixture that holds a special place in my heart, having worked closely with the course over the past few years.
This isn’t the first time that Ayr has had some issues with drainage and I do wonder whether there are any entrepreneurial types who might be able to devise a way to minimise the chances of this happening again.
With Ayr a non-starter, the attention very much switches to Newbury.
At 2.15pm the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup is a Group 3 race over 1m3f. It used to be known as the Arc Trial, but it quickly became apparent that it was no sort of trial for the Arc at all, but rather a race that attracted those who were just a bit below that sort of level. I think this year’s race is really fun to have a go at from a betting perspective. We’ve got improving horses, in form horses, out of form Group 1 winners – it’s like a Sudoku trying to work out where they will all slot in.
Ryan Moore is aboard Across The Stars, who hasn’t really looked the same horse since winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot last year.
Fabricate is in good form coming in to the race off the back of two wins and must be respected. This race does look a little harder though, so I’d be more tempted at longer odds to take a chance on My Dream Boat. He’s a class act on his day and he has shown glimpses this season that he retains the ability.
Architecture is an unknown quantity, having been off for nearly a year, but a creature who was runner-up in the English and Irish Oaks last year. She also makes appeal at odds of around 14/1, if she can show her best.
I find it remarkable that Desert Encounter is 7/2 favourite in the market. Yes, he finished third in the Coral-Eclipse with proper Group 1 horses behind him. But, look at the way the race unfolded. It fell in to the laps of horses who were held up from off the pace. He is a progressive horse, but in a race of this nature, if he gets any shorter in price he must be a lay.
Second Step is in good order after winning at Windsor last month. He actually beat Desert Encounter in a Listed race at Goodwood back in May and rates as a serious player in this. Secret Number carries top weight and he’d have a chance if it wasn’t for the 5lb penalty he carries for winning in Turkey.
It’s a wide open race, so on that basis I’ll take My Dream Boat at 14/1 and Architecture at 14/1.
The other race we’ll look at this weekend is the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at 2.50pm. There are four who make the shortlist. Frankie Dettori is an eye-catching booking on James Garfield. They came within a whisker of winning the Acomb Stakes at York and could go close again.
Nebo was a bit disappointing in the Gimcrack Stakes but ran well in Group 2 races at Newmarket and Goodwood prior to that.
Ryan Moore hops on board instead of Jim Crowley, who is claimed to ride Enjazaat by his retained owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. Enjazaat won the Ripon Two Year Old Trophy last time out, with the form looking decent as the runner-up went on to land a Listed contest at Doncaster a week ago. I think he could be a real danger to my tentative selection, Invincible Army. James Tate’s colt scored in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton most recently and had also finished runner-up in both the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood and the Gimcrack at York. He’s had a number of these rivals behind him in those races and although he is the most exposed horse in the field, I’ll side with Invincible Army to record another victory.