Ayr Gold Cup: Can Jack Dexter land first prize for Scotland?

There will be 25 horses running in what is Europe's richest sprint handicap
There will be 25 horses running in what is Europe's richest sprint handicap

Is this the year we will have a Scottish-trained winner of the Ayr Gold Cup?

It was 1975 when Scotland's most prestigious flat race was last won by a horse trained in Scotland.

The chestnut Roman Warrior - trained across the road from the racecourse by the late Nigel Angus and ridden by Johnny Seagrave - carried the huge weight of 10 stone in heavy ground to win narrowly.

The mighty Warrior was massive; he looked more like a three-mile steeplechaser rather than a six-furlong sprinter.

But when he burst out the stalls - his jockey holding on for dear life - his long stride devoured the ground and few other horses could live with him.

His size meant he had to have the biggest stable and, as you entered the Cree Lodge yard, you could see him gazing out of his box in the top right-hand corner of the yard.

Since that wet Friday 41 years ago [the race used to be run at the end of the working week], many Scottish trainers have tried - including Jim Goldie, Ian Semple and Linda Perratt - but none has succeeded.

And when the 25 runners go to post this Saturday - all hoping to win the first prize of £124,500 in what is Europe's richest sprint handicap - there will be two horses flying the flag for Scotland.

Former Old Firm stars Arthur Numan and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink made the Gold Cup draw on Thursday
Former Old Firm stars Arthur Numan and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink made the Gold Cup draw on Thursday

Ascription has not run for nearly a year and the seven-year-old will be having his first race for Carluke trainer, Keith Dalgleish.

But Jack Dexter must be in with a good chance of fulfilling a lifelong dream for Renfrewshire trainer Goldie.

Jack Dexter already has winnings of nearly £400,000 and has won nine of his 44 races, including successes at Ascot, Doncaster and Newcastle.

But with so much prize money on offer, this is always one of the year's most competitive and keenly-contested races.

Yorkshire trainer, Richard Fahey, knows what it takes having won the race last year with Don't Touch and he has the likely favourite this weekend with Growl, who ran fourth in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood at the end of July.

And talking of the Stewards' Cup, a previous winner of that race is Hoof It, owned by Ryder Cup golfer Lee Westwood.

Champion trainer, John Gosden, is sending Johnny Barnes on the journey from his Newmarket stables and he will be ridden Robert Havlin.

Here's something to consider, Havlin is one of three jockeys riding in the race who were born in Ayrshire. Danny Tudhope will be onboard Watchable while David Allan rides Kimberella.

So, if the trend of the last 41 years continues and we don't have a Scottish-trained winner of the race, how about a Scottish-ridden winner?

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