Step up in trip should suit Souter in Ayr opener

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The first day of Ayr’s Western Meeting is today’s highlight and, in the opener, Souter (1.30) has been crying out for a step up to a mile having run two promising races over 7f for Keith Dalgleish including over 7f here on debut.

He was checked in his run when finishing runner up at Musselburgh and he must run well in what looks a cracking opener with Mister Belvedere looking a big danger after his fluent Carlisle win from the front.

The listed Doonside Cup is the feature and it is a top class renewal with the nod going to Almodovar (4.50) despite the fact that he must give 7lbs to the lightly-raced three-year-old Abdon who looked very good when beating the selection’s stablemate Gershwin at Haydock last month.

The selection was taken off his feet at York in the Juddmonte last time but had looked a class performer earlier in the year both when scoring at Kempton and when finishing third in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot where he looked to find the 12f trip taxing his stamina.

Connections of the selection should know where they stand with Abdon through Gershwin and it will be fascinating to see how they bet on the race with Godolphin’s Secret Number and the excellent Maleficient Queen who has won both her starts over today’s C&D.

At Pontefract Mubajal (3.25) can take the 10f handicap for Owen Burrows; the selection landed his maiden at Chelmsford last time having run well at Salisbury stepped up to today’s 10f trip previously.

After only four career starts the selection is open to further improvement and he has a decent draw in stall four for one who likes to race prominently.

Kassia (4.00) has won two of three starts so far this term and returns from a seven-week break for Mick Channon in the 6f fillies’ handicap. The selection was a C&D winner last October and has always been highly regarded by a yard not known for calling geese swans.

The likely short-priced favourite Queen of the Stars looks vulnerable in the 10f maiden and preference is for Bailarico (5.10) who makes a belated racecourse debut for Charlie Appleby. The gelding wouldn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary to get his head in front in what looks a modest maiden for the track.

At Listowel Woodford Island (4.05) can make a winning chase debut for Gordon Elliot and the excellent Jack Kennedy.

I remember seeing the selection finish third in a handicap hurdle at Ascot back in December and thought he would make up into a decent staying chaser in time. The danger looks like being the Charles Byrnes-trained Kerrieonvic who returns from a 300-day break but has shown he can go well fresh in the past.

In the 3m handicap hurdle Shannak (5.15) will appreciate underfoot conditions more than most and can maintain his improvement from earlier in the year for Anthony and Danny Mullins. The latter was on board for his two wins at Fairyhouse earlier in the year and obviously gets on very well with the eight-year-old.

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