The Ayr Gold Cup and Kevin Ryan go hand in hand. Everybody knows his feelings towards the race and having won it four times, he is one of the most successful trainers in the history of the race. Although he has had some great success in that contest, the consolation races have not been as kind, with a third being the best result. Magical Spirit made gave Kevin a first win the 6f Ayr Silver Cup as he ran away with the contest to win impressively.
Magical Spirit has been a little bit of an enigma throughout his short career. That is not disrespectful to the horse because he has shown flashes of brilliance but then has followed it up with some disappointing runs. His return to action this season was very impressive and looked to set him up for a fruitful year. That proved to be true but it took a little longer than expected. Two below par efforts at Newcastle, following his win at Beverley, had connections scratching their heads. There were a few checks following and a decision made to give him another small wind op, which had worked so well last time.
Nowadays these procedures are not intrusive and horses don’t miss too much work. It meant the Magical Spirit could be back in action early enough and headed to Haydock over 5f for his return to action. It was a very promising return to action, showing that the procedure looked to have worked whilst Magical Spirit stayed on well to pick up a solid fourth placed finish. Having raced off a mark of 88 it was clear that he wouldn’t be able to get into the main event at Ayr but the Silver Cup could well be an ideal option for Magical Spirit.
Although he has good form over 5f and 6f arguably the latter would suit better as he has done his best work late on in races. Ayr is a meeting that is well supported but northern trainers and owners so all the races are ultra competitive and this was no different. Despite that the punters were flying into one horse, the lightly raced King’s Lynn who was donning her Majesty’s colours. It was understandable with profile of the horse but Magical Spirit was going into the race in great form, having done a sparkling piece of work the week before. The draw can play a big part in these races but nobody can be certain of where the correct place to be is until the race is off and the winners of the three sprints can differ massively. Kevin Stott has had a real breakout season and was once agin partnering the chestnut gelding.
Slightly tapped for toe over the bare 5f last time, Magical Spirit has no such problem over 6f and Kevin was keen to utilise that, keeping the race simple. He had no idea if his draw would be good or not and from stall 4 Stott was just going to go straight as an arrow. Jumping out well Magical Spirit was quickly into his stride and went forward to share the lead. It was difficult to see who held overall advantage with the 24 runners spaced right across the track. Through the first furlong there was no evidence of where the best place to be was as the field remained a calvary charge in one line spread wide across. Stott just stuck to his route and was going straight from his stall.
Finally the line was broken after the first furlong and the race split up slightly. This was due to the favourite choosing to race down the centre of the track and the majority of the field wanted to tag on to this. Kevin just edged over slightly to race closer to the centre and was joined by 2 rivals making a small group of three sticking to that side of the track. As the raced really settled down those who were closer to the stands side looked to be well out of the race even by the 4f marker. Magical Spirit held the lead as he still raced away from the main body of the field.
The round track joins the straight 3 1/2f from home and it was here where the small group of three moved away from the rest, edging further to the far side. Magical Spirit travelled well and continued to hold the lead as plenty of the back markers were coming under pressure but failing to make an impression. Passing the halfway point the race began to take shape as one by one runners came under pressure. Stott was still motionless on his and along with Admirality and fav King’s Lynn, this trio would be the last to come off the bridle.
Almost instantaneously Magical Spirit and Admirality, sitting one and two, came under a drive along with the fav. They raced wide apart but there was little to separate them as they both moved up through the gears. King’s Lynn couldn’t match the pair and succumbed quite tamely. Magical Spirit was almost on his own as he moved away from his two nearest pursuers. Aberama Gold had raced solo on the far side and was putting in a solid run. The three at the forefront were spread across the track and all were continuing to pour it on in front. As Stott got into a full drive his mount just edged over towards Aberama Gold on the far side and in turn Admirality broke from the main group to edge over to the leading pair.
Once Magical Spirit spotted his rival along the rail he changed legs and quickened once more. Moving into the final furlong he opened up a 1 1/2 length lead and was not stopping. The field were well strung out but the race was all about the front end as Magical Spirit powered away. Clear of his nearest rival he did edge further over towards the far side rail but Magical Spirit had daylight behind him now. The race was over well over 150 yards from the line, barring disaster. The final 1/2f was his victory lap as Magical Spirit galloped out all the way to the line and won impressively by 3 1/2 lengths.
This was Magical Spirit’s coming of age race and he really showed the ability he has threatened to do for the past year. It couldn’t have been any ore impressive this display and continues Hambleton Racing’s fine 2020 season. There was always going to be a big one in Magical Spirit and hopefully this is just the start of some big things. Winning a competitive race in this fashion will certainly have the handicapper sit up and take notice and Magical Spirit will be heading into the big heritage handicaps now. There is one obvious choice left for him which would be the Coral Sprint at York and Magical Spirit could be a big player in these heritage handicaps if showing up in this type of form.