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Fullandby eyes double.

Byline: By Keith Hamer and Tom Peacock

Tim Etherington is excited about Fullandby's attempt to complete the Portland Handicap/totesport.com Ayr Gold Cup double on Saturday.

The five-year-old will be attempting to become the first horse since Lochsong in 1992 to win both races in the same season.

He picked up a 5lb penalty for a narrow victory over Paradise Isle at Doncaster last Saturday, bringing his burden at Ayr up to 9st 2lb with the weights unlikely to rise as top-weight Borderlescott looks likely to take his chance in the race.

"Touch wood, he's marvellous and we're very happy with him," said Malton-based trainer Etherington. "All being well, we are ready to go on Saturday. He'll just have a canter or two, we'll turn him out and keep him fresh and well if we can."

There is only a week between the races this year, as opposed to the usual ten days and Etherington admitted: "It does make a difference to a degree.

"You've just got to hope that your horse is one of those that bounces back from his run at Doncaster. Obviously it's hard to tell until they actually run, but we are pleased with the way he's come out of the race and I think he's fine. In the Ayr Gold Cup, you need the draw and the pace to be right, but I wouldn't swap him. We are all excited about it and it's just lovely to go there with a horse with, hopefully, some sort of chance."

PJ McDonald, who partnered Fullandby at Doncaster, will again be in the saddle and will be bidding for a remarkable double of his own, having triumphed in the Scottish Grand National on Hot Weld at the Scottish track in April.

David Nicholls has 19 hopefuls left in the race at the five-day stage, including ante-post favourite Indian Trail and expects to have "four or five" runners. He said last night: "I'll know more nearer the time, but we'll possibly run about four or five. I'll have to speak to Masta Plasta's owner after he finished second at Yarmouth today, he probably wants a bit more give so he might go up to Ayr, we'll see how he gets back."

Frankie Dettori has struck up a fruitful partnership with Indian Trail but Nicholls is far from sure he will be in the saddle again at the weekend.

"Frankie has a number of different commitments and we are a fair way down the list - Ray (Cochrane, Dettori's agent) will keep in touch and if he can ride, he will," said the trainer.

Robin Bastiman reports Borderlescott to be in fine shape ahead of his bid to go one better than last year under top weight of 9st 12lb.

The Wetherby handler's stable star went down by only a length under 9st 10lb to Fonthill Road - who was on the opposite side of the track - in the six-furlong cavalry charge last September.

He then failed by only a short head to win under a burden of 9st 9lb when bidding for back-to-back victories in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood this summer.

The five-year-old was also foiled by the minimum margin by Hellvelyn at Beverley on his latest start.

"He's up for it," said Bastiman. "He ran well enough last year. He was on the stands side and the winner was on the far side and it's all about where the pace is.

"He's the only sprinter I know who hasn't run a bad race all year. The ground up there is OK for him at the moment. He's definitely better on good, good to soft ground, but I don't want it to go heavy with him carrying top weight. He's got a lot of weight to carry for a little horse.

"He's well, touch wood, and I just hope he keeps right for the weekend. He did a piece of strong work last week and pleased us, but he doesn't show a lot at home. He waits until he gets to the track. He's well in himself and all our horses are running well."

Majestic Times was only beaten by the narrowest of margins into third place two years ago and Irish trainer Liam McAteer believes he has him primed for another sterling effort.

Although the seven-year-old has not reached the winner's circle since a month after that performance, McAteer reports him to be showing much more sparkle before his attempt to score off a 3lb higher mark.

"He won a Listed sprint race at Cork soon after his last run at Ayr, but we could never get him right last year," he said.

"The ground was too fast and hopefully there will be some nice ease at Ayr, as I have him in tremendous form."

AYR GOLD CUP BETTING

TOTESPORT: 8-1 Indian Trail, Knot In Wood, 10-1 Utmost Respect, 12-1 Borderlescott, Fullandby, King's Apostle, 14-1 Pearly Wey, 16-1 Beaver Patrol, Blue Echo, Empirical Power, Fonthill Road, Genki, Gift Horse, Obe Brave, Sundae, 20-1 bar.

CORAL: 7-1 Indian Trail, Knot In Wood, 10-1 Borderlescott, Fullandby, 12-1 Fonthill Road, 14-1 Fantasy Believer, Utmost Respect, Zomerlust, 16-1 Beaver Patrol, Genki, Gift Horse, King's Apostle, Orpsie Boy, Pearly Way, 20-1 bar.

LADBROKES: 7-1 Indian Trail, 8-1 Knot In Wood, 10-1 Borderlescott, 12-1 Pearly Wey, Utmost Respect, 14-1 Beaver Patrol, Benwilt Breeze, Fonthill Road, Fullandby, 16-1 Blue Echo, Buachaill Dona, Empirical Power, Fantasy Believer, Genki, Gift Horse, King's Apostle, Sundae, Zomerlust, 20-1 bar.

CAPTION(S):

Trainer David Nicholls still has 19 entries in Saturday's race and could keep up to five in the final field
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 19, 2007
Words:933
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