With underfoot conditions to suit, Horsebetting.com experts say Morando is worth a bet to land the feature contest on the opening day of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival, the Doonside Cup. Ralph Beckett’s veteran Air Pilot has a tremendous strike rate; so, now eased in grade, rates the main danger in the Listed 1m 2f contest on Thursday, 20 September. Escalator, meanwhile, is a progressive sort and appeals as the each-way punt. Find out more about these horses’ chances by reading our in-depth 2018 Doonside Cup betting tips preview.Morando up for the Doonside CupMorando has proven form in the mud, so looks decent value to land the feature race at Ayr on Thursday – the Listed 1m 2f Doonside Cup (15:35). The gelding hails from the in-form yard of Andrew Balding and shaped with plenty of promise on seasonal reappearance in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown where, after racing keenly early doors, he stayed on strongly near the finish to be beaten 1 1/4 lengths into third behind Crystal Ocean.
The winner is a high-class sort who has since gone on to land a Group 3 at Newbury and the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, before finishing a fine second to stable companion Poet’s Word in the Group 1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the same venue. Almodovar, who finished three-quarters of a length behind Morando in fourth, also ran a cracker next time up when second in a Group 1 at Longchamp.
That gives the form a strong look in relation to this contest and, although Morando has failed to build on it in two subsequent starts, he was beaten just two lengths in the last of those in a Listed contest when last of five to Mustashry, who has won again since, in a race which wasn’t run to suit.
Morando’s last success came in Listed company at Windsor in July of last year on good-to-soft ground when he showed a willing attitude to beat Stormy Antarctic by a short-head. He backed that up with a cracking two-length third of nine to Ballet Concerto in a Group 3 at Haydock run on heavy ground.
Underfoot conditions will clearly hold no fears for Morando and his mark of 110 is just 4lb lower than that of top rated Air Pilot – from whom he receives 7lb. On adjusted ratings, then, the son of Kendargent comes out the clear pick in the 11-runner line-up.
Morando is also one from one at the venue, so there is nothing not to like about his profile for this. Thus he features as the main selection in our 2018 Doonside Cup betting tips from the 11 runners set to line up here.Air Pilot sure to go well now eased in gradeTrainer Ralph Beckett saddles the veteran Air Pilot. The nine-year-old has to give weight all-round, but is a classy sort who revels in the testing conditions he encounters in this and looks sure to give it his best shot now eased in grade.
This gelding has a terrific strike rate of 32 per cent having won eight of his 25 careers starts – also making the frame on seven other occasions. Despite his advancing years, he still looked a force to be reckoned with when landing back-to-back contest in France back in the spring.
After easily landing a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud by four lengths, Air Pilot only had to be driven out to readily land the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt by 1 3/4 lengths from Royal Julius. Both those successes came on heavy ground, as is forecast for this.
Air Pilot then found things far too hot when last of seven to Cracksman in the Group 1 Prix Ganay, while it was a similar scenario last time out when a nine-length last of five to Poet’s Word in a Group 3 at Sandown. However, this represents a big drop in class and, now returned to much calmer waters, Air Pilot commands the utmost respect.
He’s won seven of his 19 starts over the 1m 2f trip of this and testing conditions bring out the best in him. So, given that he now has his optimum conditions, Air Pilot looks all set to run a huge race in the hands of Harry Bentley.Escalator on an upward curve and another with claimsIn what is a wide-open looking renewal of the Doonside Cup, Escalator is another with claims given his upwardly mobile profile. This Charlie Fellowes trained three-year-old has won three of his five starts this season, and in the last of those at Goodwood he could not have been more impressive when landing a competitive eight-runner handicap on his first try on really soft ground.
After tracking the leaders, Escalator was in front at the furlong marker when they emerged from the gloom on a day when visibility was very poor. He then shot clear and stayed on strongly to win going away by 3 1/2 lengths from Beringer.
There were plenty of in-form runners that contested that race, while the fourth home Jack Regan has come out and won since. It was a career-best performance from Escalator and one which suggested there could be even better to come, given that the son of Cape Cross has only had seven starts.
This represents a step up in class, but Escalator is clearly thriving and looks a potential pattern performer in the making. So, at the odds on offer, he therefore features as the each-way punt in our 2018 Doonside Cup betting tips.Your Next Bet