Knocking on the door, running well but not really fulfilling the promise show. This about sums up Ayutthaya who has threatened but not really delivered on the huge potential he has. Varying from 1m to 1m2f Ayutthaya had 3 wins to his name but ultimately not won for over 16 months. This strike rate was improved when he took the 1m2f Watch Racing TV Now Handicap at Haydock.
Last season Ayutthaya won over 1m but then gradually stepped up in trip, culminating in a couple off very good efforts over 1m2f. Having shown he stayed and with a mark in the early 90’s, 2019 looked to be a big year for Ayutthaya. He seemed destine to compete in some top handicaps but unfortunately that isn’t come to fruition. It has been an inconsistent season with some very good efforts being marred by lesser ones.
Ayutthaya has always been a long striding horse so his style of racing was to use that and be positive. In a bid to get a bit more from Ayutthaya, a change in tactics was going to be implemented when the chestnut lined up at Haydock. He would take on 8 rivals in a competitive race and this time would look to just sit off the pace. Tom eaves was booked for the ride.
Jumping spritely Ayutthaya landed almost in front, which is his usual style of running. Tom didn’t move and allowed his rivals to move on. As they did this let Ayutthaya tuck in but the early pace was a bit steady and turned the race into a muddling affair. They were not really sure who wanted to go on and this saw Ayutthaya just take a tug as he tried to go forward. Tom wanted the opposite so he had to restrain his mount, trying hard to anchor the chestnut. After the first couple of furlongs Hot Team went on to set the pace which got the field organised and allowed Ayutthaya to drop into 4th place.
Down the back straight the field went through the first 1/2 mile and the gallop remained sedate. The leader was getting an easy time up front but the field were well bunched up. Ayutthaya travelled well in behind and had settled into a lovely rhythm. Ocala did make a move heading into the left handed bend to sweep down the outer and join the leader. This injected a little more pace into the contest but nothing too strenuous. Swinging around the bend the field were taken into the second half of the race and all 9 runners were within touching distance of the lead.
The pace steadily increased all the way around the bend and by the time the leader entered the straight he had edged into a couple of lengths lead. Ayutthaya had been shuffled back a little but swinging for home he was well positioned to begin his run toward the centre of the track. They were 4f from home but the back markers crept ever closer, which included Ayutthaya who was travelling sweetly in Tom’s hands.
Passing the 3f Hot Team tried to kick away from the front as his jockey began to wind it up. This hand a knock on effect as those in behind followed suit to maintain their positions. Ayutthaya was still cruising down the outer and moved closer whilst still on the bridle. He had the favourite directly next to him but Ayutthaya moved into 3rd spot with ease. Suddenly the raced begin to take shape heading into the final 1/4 mile as the first four begin to edge away.
Tom was cajoling his mount as the chestnut crept closer and closer. The favourite struggled to match Ayutthaya and it was the chestnut who moved into contention full of running. As they hit the 1f marker Ayutthaya had drawn alongside the longtime leader and Tom had yet to ask for everything. With the race within his grasp Tom now got lower in the saddle and asked Ayutthaya to go and put it to bed. He began to pull away and started to lengthen out with every stride. Having been caught flat footed it was the favourite Qarasu who now was coming through to give chase but Ayutthaya was looking strong. With a 3 length break and just 100 yards to run the race was in the bag. The margin did close but Ayutthaya had made the race winning move and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths, snapping a long losing streak.
Ayutthaya has talent and it is nice to see him put in a performance like this. The change of tactics really suited and that could be the key to him now. He cruised into the race and quickened up nicely but he didn’t too much in front once he grabbed the lead. Ayutthaya is a powerful galloper and does have gears so a strong gallop and big field handicaps would suit. It has been a long time coming but Ayutthaya is still young and if he can go on from this win then he could be a fine prospect for the rest of this season and into next. There are plenty of options coming up for him, especially as he enjoys ease in the ground, and he could head to Ayr for the Gold Cup meeting. Hopefully next year we will be seeing him on a Saturday in the top handicaps.