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Sunday 17 June 2018

4.10 Ayr, Monday, June 18

In the Ayr Cancer Support James Bond Ball Handicap (4.10) at the South Ayrshire course on Monday, Saint Equiano has recorded his best form with some cut in the ground, so a drop of rain wouldn’t hurt. However, Keith Dalgleish’s 4-year-old ran well enough over course and distance, on the prevailing good to firm going, two weeks ago to suggest that his turn isn’t far away. On that occasion, he finished fourth of 11, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Luiz Vaz De Torres, with Proud Archi just a short head further behind in fifth.

The latter, who’s just 1lb higher in the weights than when winning at Beverley and Thirsk last season, looks dangerous again but, with Graham Lee taking over from apprentice Rowan Scott, Saint Equiano can confirm the form on the same terms. The Equiano gelding is, in fact, 3lb lower in the weights than when winning a similar race at Carlisle last July and, after two runs this season, should be cherry-ripe to take advantage of a favourable handicap mark.

Keith Dalgleish doesn’t make life any easier for punters by also saddling War Department, who’s absolutely thrown in on his winning form at Newcastle last June, but has shown next to nothing since. The 5-year-old has won just once on turf, though – on his debut for William Haggas three years ago – and has beaten just six of 38 rivals on his last three starts in that sphere; it’s probably safe to say that Saint Equiano is the stable pick, on form and jockey bookings and, if not, I hope the Ayr stewards have a good long chat with the South Lanarkshire trainer.

Selection: Ayr 4.10 Saint Equiano to win