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Ayr racecourse is readying itself for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival
Ayr racecourse is readying itself for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival

It is the opening day of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival in what is one of the biggest weeks of the year at the Scottish racecourse.

The eight-race card begins at 1.50pm and will run through to 5.50pm.

We have picked out five horses for you to follow. 

1.50pm - EBF Novice Stakes (1m)

Mark Johnston's colt OUTBREAK was very impressive when he broke his maiden on his second start, scoring by five lengths at Salisbury (1m). 

He made all in that contest and, as the race progressed, stretched further away from his rivals.

The Dark Angel colt will need to carry a penalty here as he is the only winner in the field — but that is unlikely to be enough to stop him from following up.

LiveScore selection: Outbreak

2.25pm - Virgin Bet Handicap (7f)

A first success in 12 months almost came for STAR SHIELD at Haydock (1m) last time but he fell short by just a neck. 

He finished that race strongly and it should give his connections confidence a victory may not be far away.

David O'Meara's runner has gone up just 1lb in the weights and he is a winner over this 7f distance. 

He is in with a great chance in this competitive handicap contest.

LiveScore selection: Star Shield

4.10pm British Stallion Studs Scottish Premier Series EBF Fillies' Handicap (1m2f)

Trainer Karl Burke is looking for more success from Alyara
Trainer Karl Burke is looking for more success from Alyara

ALYARA took a big step forward on her latest appearance at Carlisle (1m1f), scoring for the first time in what was her sixth appearance. 

The filly took advantage of being eased in the ratings to prevail.

The task will be more difficult from this 4lb higher mark but Karl Burke's runner is unlikely to have stopped improving, stepping up in trip with this distance is likely to suit her. 

LiveScore selection: Alyara

4.45pm - Virgin Bet Kilkerran Cup Handicap (1m2f)

When it comes to consistency, COCKALORUM cannot be faulted this summer — he has hit the front three in his last nine races. 

There have been two victories in that period and he is unlucky to not have more wins.

The experienced six-year-old was third of 12 runners over the extended 1m2f trip at York last month. He was just over one length behind the winner in that class two contest.

Roger Fell's runner is worth another shot off this mark of 99. 

He should be in contention at the business end of the race at the very least and hopefully, for his connections, has some luck go his way.

LiveScore selection: Cockalorum

5.18pm - Branding Hub For Sign Design Print Handicap (5f)

C&D winner RORY is back at a course he clearly enjoys, featuring here twice and doing no worse than second place.

On his latest outing at Musselburgh (5f), he won going away from the field in the closing stages.

This latest mark of 69 is a career-high for the three-year-old gelding who is at the top of his game, so there should be many more wins to come for this sprinter.

LiveScore selection: Rory

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