Captain Ramius strikes Gold
Captain Ramius was a clear-cut winner of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup under Pat Smullen for trainer Kevin Ryan on Saturday.
The six-year-old usually plies his trade over seven furlongs but dropped back to six when a good fourth in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on his latest start and improved on that effort here to land Europe's richest sprint handicap.
The heavy ground held no fears for him as he went through it well when placed in the Bunbury Cup and he glided through the testing turf in the centre of the track to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
The winner was a well-backed 16-1 chance and he was chased home by 2008 winner Regal Parade (25-1), who finised with a real rattle to finish runner-up.
The 8-1 favourite Maarek was third with Sholaan (16-1), who showed bright early dash on the far side, fourth.
Ryan, who also won this race with Advanced in 2007, said: "I'm delighted. We had four good horses going into the race.
"The ground is very testing out there. It's very tacky and even soft-ground horses don't go through it.
"After the Bunbury Cup I said to Clodagh (McStay, owner) I was going to train him for the Ayr Gold Cup.
"He's a tough horse. It's great for the owners, they've let me do what I want with him. And I'm delighted for Pat, who's come over from Ireland to ride him.
"We start thinking about this race in January. When it comes off it's great.
"This is the richest sprint handicap in Europe and it's great to win it again."
Smullen said: "I just wanted to get a good position from a bad draw. "He's a very straightforward horse and trained by a very good trainer.
"The McStays (owners) are Irish people and were kind to ask me to ride him.
"Kevin has always been a good supporter of mine when he sends horses to Ireland, so we have that connection.
"It's great to win a big race like this."
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