Ayr Preview: Hazelrigg handicapped to strike
The well-treated Hazelrigg can take advantage of a drop in class to land the 5f handicap on the opening day of Ayr’s prestigious Gold Cup meeting (2.40).
The Tim Easterby trained gelding is a dual course and distance winner, with the last of those successes coming at this festival 12 months ago in a class 4 contest off a mark of 73.
The nine-year-old stayed on strongly to beat Imperial Legend by a neck in a competitive 24-runner affair, and now gets into this lower grade class 5 contest off 3lb lower.
It gives Hazelrigg major claims from a handicapping perspective, and the son of Namid comes into the contest on the back of an eye-catching run when seventh of 20 to Expose at Doncaster.
Hazelrigg didn’t get the clearest of passages that day, but stayed on well to be beaten just 2 3/4 lengths.
It was an effort which suggested the veteran was coming to the boil, and his shrewd handler is sure to have had a race at this meeting as his target for some time.
Norse Blues has plummeted in the weights and can take advantage to land the 1m handicap (3.10) now dropped into class 4 company for the first time in nearly three years.
The David Barron trained gelding scored twice over a mile at Thirsk last season, including when landing competitive class 3 Summer Cup by 1 3/4 lengths from Karaka Jack off a rating of 90.
The six-year-old was put up to 96 after that success, and although he has failed to trouble the judge in eight starts this season he has often shaped far better than the bare result inidicates and is now able to race off a mark of just 84.
That is 6lb lower than when last successful, and Norse Blues shaped as if coming back to form last time out at Chester when a close up fifth to Marcret in a class 3 contest.
The son of Norse Dancer now gets into this lower grade contest off the same mark, and if he can build on that effort looks weighted to take all the beating in the hands of Graham Gibbons.
In the 7f handicap (3.40), a 4lb rise in the weights is unlikely to be enough to prevent recent Newcastle scorer Old Man Clegg going in again.
The Mick Easterby trained gelding ended a long losing run when only having to be driven out to beat See Clearly by a length in a 15-runner contest, and off a rating of 62 is still 5lb lower than when previously successful and very well-treated on the pick of his form.
2.10: Spirit of Zeb
2.40: Hazelrigg (NAP)
3.10: Norse Blues (NB)
3.40: Old Man Clegg
4.40: Dance King
5.10: A Southside Boy