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Jockey Kevin Stott celebrates after winning the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap
Jockey Kevin Stott celebrates after winning the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap

Bielsa emerged victorious in Saturday's Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup, sealing a fifth victory in the handicap race for trainer Kevin Ryan.

Results in Friday's Bronze Cup and the Silver Cup earlier on Saturday suggested that a low draw would be favourable for the feature sprint over six furlongs and that appeared to go against Bielsa, who was starting from stall 25.

However, most of the field split into two distinctive groups, either on the far side or down the middle for a large part of the race, but under the stewardship of jockey Kevin Stott, Bielsa ploughed a lone furrow against the stands' side rail.

That proved a masterstroke for the King Power-owned six-year-old, as he galloped straight and true during the final furlong to claim the victory by two and a quarter lengths from favourite Great Ambassador, while Mr Wagyu came in third.

Winning trainer Ryan was delighted to see Bielsa prevail and he believes their decision to run down the rail was fully vindicated.

Bielsa under Kevin Stott races home to win the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup
Bielsa under Kevin Stott races home to win the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup

"I spoke to Alistair Donald (racing manager for winning owners King Power Racing) this morning and said 'we're on the rail, it's fresh ground, and he likes to go that way anyway'," Ryan told ITV Racing.

"It's great to train a winner like this for King Power. They've been very patient with this horse and I'm chuffed really."

The victory was also a successful end to what has been a difficult season for Bielsa, who was running for the first time since finishing sixth in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood at the end of July.

Ryan believes that rest period was of benefit to Bielsa, who went into Saturday's race fresh. 

"He's a very talented horse. It just hasn't happened this year," Ryan added. "Things go wrong and you get little niggles, but that's what gets you an Ayr Gold Cup - they generally get there fresh and well."

Bielsa's win was Ryan's fifth success in the Ayr Gold Cup, following on from his victories with Advanced (2007), Our Jonathan (2011), Captain Ramius (2012) and Brando (2016), with the trainer admitting he was not sure if he would ever taste victory in the handicap once again. 

"We've won four Ayr Gold Cups and you wonder if you're going to win another one," Ryan admitted. "It's a tough race to win. We've been very lucky to have the horses who have the quality to come and win this race."

Bielsa wasn't the only big winner on the final day of Ayr's Gold Cup Festival, as 16/1 shot Nazanin triumphed in the Group Three Firth Of Clyde Fillies' Stakes for trainer Archie Watson, while Mark Johnston's Maydanny prevailed in the Listed Doonside Cup Stakes.

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