Andrew Balding has warned that Donjuan Triumphant, winner of the 2017 Ayr Gold Cup replacement race, is not a certain runner in Saturday’s £200,000 handicap due to concerns over the drying ground.
Donjuan Triumphant won the 6f sprint when it was restaged at Haydock two years ago due to sections of the course at Ayr being waterlogged, but the forecast is predominantly dry in the lead-up to this weekend with the going described as good to soft on Tuesday.
The six-year-old has not contested a turf handicap since winning at Haydock on heavy ground but has run well in good company this year, most notably when second to Brando in a conditions event at Hamilton and a three-length fourth behind Waldpfad in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
Donjuan Triumphant, owned by King Power Racing, most recently finished sixth in the Hungerford Stakes over 7f and is 25-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral to land the Ayr Gold Cup.
The same connections have another contender in Shergar Cup Dash scorer Stone Of Destiny, who is 33-1 with Betfred and William Hill but is also entered in the Group 3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes at Newbury on the same day.
Balding, also successful with Highland Colori in 2013, said: "I’m really happy with Donjuan Triumphant but I’m worried about the ground drying out and going against him.
"We’ll be watching the weather forecast closely and he’ll only go there if the ground is right as he wants it slower than good.
"Stone Of Destiny has two options of Newbury and Ayr and it’s weather dependent again. He might end up running at Ayr if it’s not right for Donjuan Triumphant, but we won’t make a call until Thursday."
Fox Tal delighted the same owner-trainer combination with victory on his first start at three in a 1m2f conditions race at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster last week.
The one-time Classic hope, who defeated St Leger second Sir Ron Priestley when winning a novice race at Ffos Las last year, has missed most of the season due to a spring setback but is a smart prospect.
Fox Tal finished a length third in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud on his final start of last year and Balding is likely to give him one more run this season.
Balding said: “We were delighted with Fox Tal at Doncaster – he’s a horse we’ve always held in high regard and it was unfortunate he had a setback in the spring as we had high hopes he would develop into a very decent three-year-old, which he still could.
“We’ll probably run him once more this autumn. There are a couple of possibilities in early October, including Listed and Group races, but it’s all about next year for him.
“He’s always worked well, was placed in Group 1 company last year and there’s no question he’s a high-class horse.”