Ayr Gold Cup Races 2013: Soft Ground Only Increases Pressure on Jack Dexter
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Scotland hasn't had a home-grown winner of the Ayr Gold Cup since 1975, but in Jack Dexter they have their best chance yet.
Horses might be oblivious to pressure, but jockeys and owners certainly aren't. And it shows.
Jack Dexter performed well in wet conditions last year, and the recent rain in Ayrshire has meant that he is almost expected to win on Saturday. However, as the season's end approaches it becomes very difficult to choose a winner based solely on form.
Sometimes the horses simply haven't got anything left to give as October approaches, and assessing the conditions becomes even more important.
Jack Dexter thrives on soft ground, so it's not surprising that he is the favourite for the race. At 10-1 by BetFred and Ladbrokes, he remains a solid bet, but it's important to remember that the last time a favourite won the Ayr Gold Cup was in 1996.
Second favourite Baccarat is only just behind Jack Dexter with the bookies, and could yet overtake him before the start of the race.
Jack Dexter will carry a heavy weight on the day, which could also factor against him in wet conditions. Although he hasn't raced since June, the Ayr course is a tough battle.
The nine stones and 10 pounds he is humping in this year's showpiece is two pounds above the weight he took to victory in the Ayr Bronze Cup last year, so his trainer Jim Goldie is under no illusions about what to expect.
When speaking to The Herald, Goldie was quietly confident:
He (Jack Dexter) is a very special horse. He is not big physically but is very well balanced. He is not a lover of fast ground but still managed fourth in the King's Stand. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet.
JACK DEXTER got to have a massive chance in AYR GOLD CUP despite top weight— GRAHAM ASHFORD (@ASHFORDGRAHAM) September 21, 2013
This year's Bronze Cup was won by 25 Circuitous, who started from stall 27. Watching the results of the Bronze and Silver Cups can be a good predictor of how important draw will be, so Jack Dexter certainly appears to have an advantage.
He has a high draw in stall 22, and the last three winners have come from relatively high draws. But the standard of the field is so high that nothing is certain.
The stage is set for history to be made.
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