Soft ground expected at Ayr for this afternoon’s flat meeting and there is a competitive 10f handicap. Natchez Trace finished runner up at Nottingham last week and is due to go up 4lbs in the weights from the weekend. He would be the one to beat on good to soft or faster ground, but I wonder about his ability to handle underfoot conditions with further showers forecast.

Innse Gall (1.30) has been slowly away on his last couple of starts but he is taken to return to winning ways for Iain Jardine. The 3-y-old did not get the clearest of passages when second to Molinari on his penultimate start and he is 2lbs better off with that rival who reopposes this afternoon. The selection – 4s with William Hill – scored over C&D on good to soft ground back in August and, if he gets away on terms, I believe he will be tough to beat. He gets the each way nod.

It could be a good day for Jardine as he also saddles Kats Bob who carries a 6lbs penalty for scoring over today’s C&D last week. The 3-y-old is 8lbs higher in the weights having been raised 2lbs for his second at Hamilton over 6f when he gave every indication that he would improve for the step up in distance which he duly did although he was all out to score in a blanket finish.

I think Baileys Afterparty (4.25) will appreciate the step up to today’s extended 7f with plenty of cut having stayed on near the stands’ rail over 6f at Leicester last time. Events at Oadby earlier in the week suggested racing near to the stands’ side was a disadvantage albeit that was on soft ground.

The each way recommendation – 12s with MansionBet – has only raced twice this term but was a winner on heavy ground over 6f as a juvenile and has been dropped a couple of pounds since her last start. The filly is out of a 6f winner, but she has produced several winners over further and the hope is that today’s additional furlong on soft ground will bring about the necessary improvement.

I feel Puffin Bay (1.55) will stay further in time, but she can make a winning hurdles debut for Oliver Sherwood at Exeter having impressed when landing a Mares Bumper at Stratford last time. The filly – 2s with 10Bet – is the sister to a two-and-a-half-mile hurdle winner and showed she coped well with good ground when landing her Bumper.

The Mares’ Novices Chase at Worcester is worth the admission alone and I am convinced there will be a number of winners come out of the race. Of more interest from a betting perspective is Starsky (2.13) who was a winning pointer for Tom Malone and came good under Rules for Dan Skelton when scoring over hurdles at Warwick from an 8lbs lower mark back in May on good to soft ground – point win came on soft.

He makes his chase debut this afternoon and first time out might be the time to catch him given he has a good record fresh. The recommendation is 9/4 with William Hill.

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