I’m very happy to hear that Davy Russell is to spend more time in the UK having reached an agreement to ride for owner Dai Walters.
I was lucky enough to work with the straight-faced jockey when presenting for Setanta Sports last year and he is not only a shrewd cookie, but a man with an unbelievably brilliant sense of humour, as dry as the Gobi Desert!
And hands up those of you who thought his ride on Lord Windermere in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup was one of the very best seen at Prestbury Park? Hope to see more of that when the junps kick off.
It’s the Ayr Festival this weekend at the West of Scotland track and we finally have soft ground conditions that always used to be symbolic of this famous meeting.
With two top-rated sprinters on 110 this is one of the very best handicap speed events of the year and with Bronze and Silver Cups to boot it really is a test of form analysis and bloody-minded luck in running.
The big one is on Saturday at 3.45 and I expect an almighty run from BARAWEEZ at a tasty price.
There’s a slight problem – the six-year-old has never raced over six furlongs but I love that as it means he is thoroughly unexposed at the trip.
But there are three other factors in his favour.
Firstly, he ran an eye-catching race behind Boom the Groom over 5.5f at York last time out on ground way too fast. Secondly, he will relish the soft turf on Saturday and thirdly, he is trained by the genius that is Brian Ellison.
Growl may well be favourite, but he is blatantly no value in a 25-runner sprint handicap and I would much rather have a saver on Jack Dexter and the mud loving Aeolus.
The Silver Cup at 2.35pm looks even more difficult but there is a ray of sunshine shining out at me in the form of ECCLESTON. Sixth in the race last year and now 5lbs lower, the five-year-old showed his turn was close with a promising run at Thirsk last time out. George Bowen and Intibaah are respected.
His win to run ratio isn’t as good as it should be, but with a fast pace assured on soft ground old BERTIEWHITTLE is the each-way call in the 7f handicap at 4.55pm.
However, my best bet of the weekend is COTAI GLORY in the World Trophy Stakes (3.25) at Newbury.
I thought it was a mistake to run the speedster at the Curragh last week, but as long as he has come out of the race in good condition and the ground remains fast then he has outstanding claims for Charlie Hills.