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Horse Racing: We're barking up the right tree with 9-1 Knot In Wood; PRICEWISE.

Byline: Tom Segal

THE draw gurus are going to think I'm off my rocker, but I'm not convinced the high numbers are going to be at any great advantage in the Ayr Gold Cup today, despite the evidence yesterday seeming to suggest otherwise.

The first horse home on the far side in the Silver Cup could finish only eighth, a long way behind the winner, but if you take the three well-handicapped and in-form three-year-olds out of that race there was nothing between the two sides at all, with Commando Scott finishing hot on the heels of the best of the older horses drawn high.

This afternoon, I think most of the fanciable horses are drawn low and, with most of the jockeys on that side thinking they are going to be at a disadvantage, the pace on that side is sure to be strong.

Consequently, back Knot In Wood at a general 9-1 from stall four to make it a Richard Fahey Silver and Gold Cup double, as this is the horse I have long fancied for the race.

Third in the Stewards' Cup last time from a bad draw, Knot In Wood did exceptionally well to finish as close as he did as he did an awful lot of running from a long way out just to get on terms with those drawn on the opposite side.

That effort strongly suggested he was very well handicapped, and further plus points come from the facts that the softer ground is even more in his favour and that he goes very well at the track.

Last year, in the Silver version, Knot In Wood finished first home on his side and he's a much better horse this year and has clearly been trained for the race. He also has tons of early pace, so will be well suited to the conditions, as it has clearly been very hard to come from off the pace at Ayr this week.

Jamie Moriarty takes a valuable 3lb off his back and steered the horse to his most impressive win at Hamilton, so, provided the draw has not totally scuppered his chance, I would expect him to go very close indeed.

It is worth remembering that Fahey won both the big one yesterday and last year's Gold Cup, and that Knot In Wood led them home on his side in the Silver version a year ago, so he clearly has his horses primed for this meeting.

Most punters will undoubtedly smash into those drawn high, and I have little doubt that Borderlescott will start a well-backed favourite from stall 28.

I just didn't think he was at his best in the race a year ago, despite coming home narrowly in front on his side, and I wonder whether this tacky ground really suits him.

The one I like best of those drawn high is Majestic Times, and I suggest backing him from stall 25 just in case the high numbers are massively favoured.

A close third in this race two years ago when well clear on his side, Majestic Times has had some problems since but has been trained for this all season and ran a smashing race on the sand at Dundalk last time. That will have put him cherry ripe, and his trainer has already had a winner at this meeting.

Don't forget that just over a year ago Majestic Times was being beaten only a couple of lengths by two of the best sprinters in Europe in Dandy Man and Benbaun. If he's back to that level of form he will be very hard to beat and the 22-1 will be massive.

Others to consider are Advanced and Grantley Adams, who both have good form in these big-field handicaps.

At Newbury, the John Smith's Handicap is usually the best Cambridgeshire trial and I doubt this year will be any different.

Surprisingly, three-year-olds don't have a great record, but I really can't see past Pipedreamer and Monte Alto today, as they are progressing fast and come here on the back of career-best efforts.

Monte Alto would prefer some give and may just be better at a bit shorter, so preference has to be for Pipedreamer, who was massively impressive at Goodwood last time and has always been regarded as a Group horse by in-form trainer John Gosden.

Today's bets

Pipedreamer

3.10 Newbury

1pt win at 11-2 with Hills

Knot In Wood

3.30 Ayr

1pt win at 9-1 generally

Majestic Times

3.30 Ayr

1pt win at 22-1 with Coral and Stan James

CAPTION(S):

Pipedreamer (No. 6): well thought of and could prove better than a handicapper
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 22, 2007
Words:777
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