‘He’s an old legend’: Summerghand times Ayr Gold Cup surge to perfection


Summerghand proved there is no substitute to experience as the eight-year-old struck in typically late fashion to scoop the Ayr Gold Cup.

Commanche Falls looked poised to add the prestigious six-furlong handicap to the Stewards’ Cup he won in July, but he was denied in the dying strides as Scotland’s own Danny Tudhope weaved his way into contention aboard David O’Meara’s evergreen runner.

It was the second time this season the 12-1 winner has denied Commanche Falls, with Summerghand accounting for Michael Dods’s five-year-old when the pair clashed at York last month. The first two home have run over 90 times between them over the course of their respective careers and it was the winner’s 15th victory on his 71st start.

O’Meara was picking up his second Ayr Gold Cup to add to Louis The Pious’ victory in 2014 and he told ITV Racing: “He’s been with me a long time and he’s an old legend isn’t he? He’s run here a good few times and hit the woodwork a fair bit. He’s an absolute legend.

“Liam Heard rides him out every day and I don’t really gallop him. Like a lot of these good sprinters, they don’t need a lot of work. He runs quite frequently and sort of looks after himself. He loves the game and it was a great ride by Danny, I think they were saying it’s been over 50 years since a Scottish jockey has won this race.”

Meanwhile, Roger Varian’s exciting Sakheer confirmed the promise of his clear-cut Haydock success with a bloodless victory in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury. Defeated only by inexperience on debut, he built on that first appearance on Merseyside last month before taking the step up to Group Two level with aplomb on just his third start.

Always well positioned tracking the early leader Shouldvebeenaring, the result was elementary once David Egan showed the son of Zoffany some daylight and pushed the button for home. The 4-5 favourite scorched clear to return an emphatic three-and-a-half-length verdict at the line, with the victory bringing up a four-timer on the day for Egan. For Varian it was his sixth winner of a stand-out afternoon up and down the UK.

Only six days after the trainer/jockey combination landed the St Leger for Sakheer’s owners KHK Racing Ltd, they could have another Classic contender on their hands, with Coral going 10-1 from 33-1 for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.

“He has size and scope, he’s very exciting and I think he’ll stay seven furlongs or a mile,” said Varian. “You can never really expect things to go as well for us as it has today, but everything is clicking. He’s in the Middle Park, but it’s next week, very soon. We’ll have to see.”

Earlier, the Varian-trained Mitbaahy regained the winning thread in the Group Three World Trophy Stakes. Always travelling smoothly in the hands of Egan behind the hot pace set by Look Out Louis, the 9-2 chance ran on strongly to hunt down Irish raider Teresa Mendoza in the closing stages. And Hughie Morrison’s Stay Alert was given a cool ride by Egan to land the Group Three Legacy Cup Stakes.