THE FLOWER OF SCOTLAND!
Yes, that notorious high-number draw returned a bigger win than the Lottery for many punters when Wildwood Flower produced a devastating burst to collar Double Action in the pounds 74,000 showpiece.
But for a wee while it looked as though the low-number hoodoo would finally be overcome as the far side had a slight edge racing into the last furlong.
That was until flying filly Wildwood Flower produced a pulverising burst of pace for Dane O'Neill to snatch the verdict by threequarters of a length.
The race is becoming quite an event for the ladies - wee Flower was the seventh filly to win in the last 10 years.
As usual, the big three were busy shortening the odds before the off. But their betting shop bogeys, Oggi and My Melody Parkes never got into the hunt.
I had to feel a wee bit sorry for trainer Tim Easterby - who has been having a fantastic first season - and jockey Lindsay Charnock. They came so close with Double Action from the worst of the draw.
And what a prelude there was to the Gold Rush.
Perryston View, owned by local hotelliers and racing freaks Ken and Janis MacPherson, struck Silver with a stunning run up that stands rail.
Trained by Scot Peter Calver, the Yorkshire-based All Creatures Great and Small vet, Perryston View ran as a straight as a gun barrel up the rail.
Ken and Janis, who have been doing a roaring trade in the Ayrshire and Galloway hotel in the town centre, came close to Gold Cup glory in 1979, when Cree Song, trained across the road by Charlie Williams, was placed in Scotland's premier sprint.
"The idea was to win the Gold Cup but you couldn't get in off his handicap mark. The dream has always been to train a winner on Gold Cup day and this time we struck Silver," said Calver.
When the tumult had settled, the refrains had been sung and bars pillaged, the one clear winner was Ayr Gold Cup day itself.
The purists may look down their binoculars at this annual boisterous bash but it's a celebration of the working Scots at play.
With money in his hip and a glass at hand, the working man is Lord of the Manor on the big day.
Out in the betting ring - a human jungle where only the fittest survive - bookie Ricky Martin wiped a bead of perspiration from a fevered brow.
After his publicity coup in offering each way Gold Cup odds the first five places, instead of the regulation four, a queue formed that would do justice to a Harrods sale.
The gamble paid off for Ricky. He had a skinner with third placed Superior Premium and Albert The Bear, who finished fifth - as well as some publicity on Channel 4.
There's no doubt that many punters will seek him out next time they go racing. And, with a face straight out of a Wanted poster they will no' miss him!
Ricky is desperate for a reform of the ring - would you believe it, he's in the back line - more power to his chalk.
He's campaigning for change but that's another story - and so is the ex- Ayr racecourse accountant who is charged with embezzling pounds 112,000. It'll make the headlines when his case comes up in November.
Before the day took its toll - our pub bus rolled out at ten in the morning - we decided to take in the parade ring.
One of the horses walking round wore a tongue strap. Actually it was a pair of nylons wrapped round its jaw.
A boy turned to his dad and asked: "Won't that slip off in a tight finish."
"Son, if they're anything like your mother's tights, Pickford's lorries couldn't remove them."
Out on the track the cuddies were, as usual, breaking hearts and wallets.
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Sep 21, 1997|
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