Top tips for Ayr on Friday: Course stats and four horses worth backing

There's a very competitive card at Ayr on Friday and if you're considering a punt some help is at hand from Planet Sport experts.

We have identified four horses with solid chances and some useful course stats, all in the hope of helping you turn a profit, while the Planet Sport Racing Live Centre is well worth visiting to view the highly informative Ayr race card.

Selections:

John Locke (14.55 Ayr)

Beakstown (15.30 Ayr)

Wynn House (16.05 Ayr)

Skatman (17.15 Ayr)

Course characteristics

Left-handed, mainly flat. Circuit 1m4f, comprising of nine fences. On decent ground, the course can be considered sharp but when conditions get testing it's a thorough test.

Top trainers with runners

Nicky Richards is the leading trainer here over the past five seasons, with a record of 36-175 (21%), and he has a couple of chances this afternoon to boost that tally: Soft Risk (14.55) and Smokey The Bandit (17.15).

He's closely followed by Nick Alexander (29-215, 13%) who is bossing the current season: 12-52, 23%, for a £59.00 profit to £1 level-stakes. He runs three: Half Track (13.45), Elvis Mail (15.30) and Dubai Days (16.40).

But clearly the likes of Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton will always send horses to this particular meeting given the prize money on offer, and their respective records - 23-94 (24%) and 8-38 (21%) - suggests runners from these powerful stables merit close consideration.

Top jockeys with rides

Brian Hughes is by far the winning-most jockey over the same five-season period with 48 of his 251 rides (19%) finding the winners' enclosure, and he's 8-48 in the current season.

He has a ride in every race this afternoon: Half Track (13.45), Grey Skies (14.20), Since Day One (14.55), Presentandcounting (15.30), Pearl Of The West (16.05), Heartbreak Kid (16.40) and Taxmeifyoucan (17.15).

Harry Skelton's 39 rides here have yielded 10 wins, nine second-place finishes and six thirds. He gets the leg up on five for his brother: Hidden Heroics (13.45), John Locke (14.55), Beakstown (15.30), Get A Tonic (16.05) and Colonel Manderson (17.15).

The Skelton's have some nice chances at Ayr this afternoon

14.55 Ayr - John Locke

Since Day One has won four of his five starts over hurdles and is massively respected in this 2m handicap hurdle, for all he's now 5lb higher than when making a winning handicap debut at Newcastle last month and his jumping is untidy at times.

In Dan Skelton's John Locke he faces an unexposed rival who can be forgiven a pulled up effort when last seen out at Kempton in December, and is best judged on his previous easy success in a Huntingdon maiden on good ground and on his novice form last season.

An 85-rated performer on the Flat, he was thrown in at the deep end on his hurdles debut in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle, in which he finished fourth, and he went on to fill the same spot in an Aintree Grade 1 won by Monmiral, after which it was reported he'd bled.

With ground conditions more to his liking this afternoon and off what looks a winnable mark of 125, he should go well under Harry Skelton, who is taking over from an amateur, and with this race likely to have been on his agenda for a while.

15.30 Ayr - Beakstown

The Skelton's might be able to double up in this 2m4f handicap chase with Beakstown, who is another horse best on good ground and clearly didn't stay in the 3m Coral Trophy won by Cap Du Nord, albeit he was far from disgraced in finishing sixth of the 14 runners.

That was taking his chase record to 0-9 but he's run some cracking races in defeat, including at last year's Cheltenham Festival, where he finished fifth (of 20) in the novices' handicap and a couple of second-place finishes this term behind the likes of Erne River and Imperial Alcazar.

While no match for those two horses, both of whom are 144-rated, he's undeniably well handicapped on a mark of 129, which is 10lb lower than his hurdles rating, and with today's trip and ground ideal he is taken to get a deserved win.

Top weight Presentandcounting has won five of seven starts over fences against fellow novices, all on decent surface, and he's very much respected, although he's conceding a stone to the more experienced selection.

16.05 Ayr - Wynn House

Wynn House looks sure to go well in this mares' handicap hurdle run over an extended 3m.

Good ground is clearly key to getting the best out of Alan King's mare, whose four wins under Rules have all come on such a surface, and she'll also be sharper for last month's third at Ludlow on testing ground following an 82-day break.

She is meeting the winner of that contest, Glimpse Of Gala, on much better terms this afternoon and is back on the same mark (122) as when last successful at Wincanton in November.

She's yet to win over this far but her in-form trainer (9-39 in the last fortnight) has been quoted as saying that "2m5f on fastish ground is sharp enough" for her, so there's every reason to believe she won't be beaten through lack of stamina.

17.15 Ayr - Skatman

As previously mentioned, Paul Nicholls does well with his Ayr runners and Skatman looks the pick of his three entries this afternoon when he runs in the closing 3m handicap hurdle under Bryony Frost.

The seven-year-old has not been seen out since finishing a well beaten fourth at Doncaster in December on soft ground, which was put down as the excuse, after which he would have been put away for a spring campaign.

Like the rest of our selections, he's going to relish today's conditions and there's definitely a nice handicap or two to be won with him given he's nicely treated on a mark of 124, having been dropped 3lb since his last run.

As the winner of his sole Irish point, after which he changed hands for £170,000, his future lies over fences, but he's won two of his four hurdle starts from decent opposition over shorter and promises to be even better over today's longer trip.

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