In-form jockey, Tony Hamilton, certainly played his cards right on the fast improving sprinter, Baccarat, as he came fast and late to snatch the spoils in the valuable William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon, and now looks set to target an even bigger six furlong prize in the Ayr Gold Cup on September 21.
A horse who could well develop into a pattern race performer next term, the Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old has been on a continuous upward curve in what has been a career interrupted by sporadic niggling injuries. The Dutch Art gelding certainly enjoys the deceptively undulating Ripon circuit having begun this campaign dead-heating with David O’Meara’s Sandy Lane at the ‘Garden Racecourse’ in April.
A highly respectable ninth of 27 when racing on the unfavoured far side in the Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot in June, Baccarat was sent off joint-favourite with the eventual winner, Tropics, for the coveted Sky Bet Dash at York in July but missed the break and then was badly hampered after having recovered to have a chance a furlong out.
Everything went to plan in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap, although, for a long way, it appeared that Michael Dods’ brave front-runner, Spinatrix, might take some pegging back. Hamilton didn’t panic though, and after getting to work on his mount well over a furlong out he began to reel in the trailblazer, eventually getting up in the final 50 yards to score by a neck, the pair coming clear of the remainder headed by Rodrigo de Torres.
Well suited by the hustle and bustle of big-field handicaps, Baccarat looks the ideal type for the Ayr Gold Cup and is now a general 14/1 ante-post favourite with betfair for the Scottish cavalry charge.