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Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup predictions: Vadream can deny Bielsa's history bid
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Enda McElhinney
Racing Post
Bielsa is looking to make a bit of history but faces a stiff task in trying to defend his Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup crown
Bielsa is looking to make a bit of history but faces a stiff task in trying to defend his Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup crown

Three days of fantastic action in Scotland has been building towards the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday afternoon. 

The £150,000 contest is amongst the most prestigious of Britain's autumn sprint handicaps and has once again drawn a terrific field to the southwest coast of Scotland. 

A full field of 25 are engaged, including last year's winner Bielsa, who attempts to become the first back-to-back winner in almost a century. 

Here is our look ahead to the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup including analysis and selections for the big race. 

Bielsa up against it but Ryan's got hope

Not since 1931 has the Ayr Gold Cup been successfully defended, leaving history very much against Bielsa. 

He powered home under Kevin Stott to win this contest a year ago and is only rated 1lb higher now. 

That owes to the fact he is 0-7 since and his form this season does not hint towards a repeat. 

Indeed, his trainer Kevin Ryan may harbour better claims elsewhere in a race where he runs four. 

Aleezdancer won over 6f at Ripon last month before finishing third behind today's rival Lucky Man at York. 

Rowan Scott's partner will not mind some cut in the ground now. 

Gis A Sub could go well but hat-trick seeking Bergerac could be the main Ryan player after scores at Newmarket and York last month. 

He has been given a 5lb penalty to carry now but, like a few in the field, is clearly thriving. 

Grounds for concern with Khanjar

William Haggas and Jim Crowley have enjoyed major summer success with Baaeed and they will team up in those same Shadwell colours now with Khanjar, many people's idea of the winner in this contest. 

The lightly-raced Kodiac gelding has won 3-6 career starts thus far, including when returning from a short break for a smooth success at Haydock (6f, good to firm) this month. 

His only defeat in four 6f starts saw him finishing third in a valuable Newmarket contest in July (today's rival Admiral D was second). 

Khanjar is another carrying a 5lb penalty for a last-time-out success and it is noted that his lone encounter with soft ground at Goodwood last season yielded the worst performance of his career to date. 

That could be a worry for his connections. 

Dream believer for Fellowes

Charlie Fellowes' Vadream may well be suited by the softer ground at Ayr
Charlie Fellowes' Vadream may well be suited by the softer ground at Ayr

By contrast, the forecast softer ground here might be ideal for Charlie Fellowes' filly VADREAM as she takes her chance in a handicap for the first time. 

The daughter of Brazen Beau was a Group 3 winner 11 months ago over 6f on soft going at Ascot, repelling the smart King's Lynn in second spot. 

Following that, Vadream posted a cracking run to be fifth in the Group 1 Champions Sprint Stakes back at Ascot a fortnight later. 

This season has been perhaps disappointing, though her first three starts all came in all-aged Group-race company. 

Most recently, she was agonisingly denied when second in the Listed Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket last month, with subsequent Doncaster Scarbrough Stakes winner Manaccan behind. 

The ease in the ground will suit her now and Oisin Orr's mount has a more than decent shout on her handicap bow. 

Ed Walker's POPMASTER could not sustain his effort in this last year, fading late, but he is back now a year older and stronger and could go well under George Downing. 

The four-year-old had a near miss when second to Rohaan in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot in June and, most recently, was one-length fourth back there this month off this mark. 

He is off the same rating as last year in this contest and could go off twice the price, so is another to bear in mind. 

Racing Post Selection: Vadream 

Next Best: Popmaster

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