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Ayr Gold Cup report

It was Richard Fahey day in Britain yesterday.  Even before the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup had been run, Fahey had had a winner at Catterick and at Newbury, with two in the bag already at Ayr.  Then the Ayr Gold Cup was run, and he won that too.

In reality, the Ayr Gold Cup was the jewel in the crown, the feature race on the day, a race that is always high on the trainer’s perennial wish list.  Fahey ran three in the race, but it was Don’t Touch that the punters wanted and, sent off the 6/1 favourite, it was Don’t Touch that duly delivered.

It was Don’t Touch that Fahey wanted as well in truth.  He left us in no doubt beforehand that the Dutch Art gelding was the yard’s number one hope in the race.  He told us that it was too early to say whether or not he was a Group horse, but the fact that he was even thinking along those lines gave you an indication of the regard in which the trainer held his horse.

It is not often that you hear a trainer talk about the Ayr Gold Cup after a horse has won his maiden, but Fahey couldn’t resist the temptation after Don’t Touch had danced in on his racecourse debut at Newcastle in May.

It was a brave call, a private thought made public.  A maiden at Newcastle in early May is a long way from an Ayr Gold Cup in mid-September, but Don’t Touch took the steps that would take him there.  He won at Haydock in late May, he won at Wolverhampton in July, and he got home by a head in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon in August.  The handicapper raised him 5lb for that win, which was just about ideal.  As it turned out, he needed at least 3lb to get him into yesterday’s race.

For rider Tony Hamilton, it was a first.  Hamilton rode Fantasy Believer to finish second in the Ayr Gold Cup in 2004, but he had never won the Scottish feature before yesterday.  He always had Don’t Touch well positioned.  Never far off the pace, the rider asked his horse for his effort just outside the furlong pole, and the horse responded willingly.  He picked up nicely on the near side to catch and pass Poyle Vinnie, before keeping on well all the way to the line to get home by a half a length, with heads and necks separating the next four home.

“I kicked him out of the gate early on, just to get a position, because the last day he just went flat on me at half way,” said Hamilton.  “He jumped and travelled today though, he did everything professionally.  I just got there a bit too soon, but he dug it out well.”

For Fahey, it was a first Ayr Gold Cup in nine years, a first since he sent out Fonthill Road to win the race in 2006.

“We always thought that this would be a race for Don’t Touch,” said the County Louth native.  “We got him here in four months.  It’s great.  I am properly delighted.  I was probably very cocky when he won his maiden at Newcastle four months ago, but sometimes dreams come true and this is a dream for me.”

The Ayr Gold Cup is a special race for Fahey, and it is difficult to under-estimate what yesterday’s victory meant to him.

“I had a tear in my eye.  I’ve waited nine years to win this race.  We have been placed in it loads, but to get it right is good.  You need a special type of horse to win this, and we’re lucky that we train a special horse like this fellow.”

It is also difficult to under-estimate the magnitude of the feat that the trainer achieved in producing Don’t Touch to win an Ayr Gold Cup.  Don’t Touch is only three, he is relatively immature for a sprinter, and until four months ago, he had never set foot on a racecourse.

“Win lose or draw today, he was always going home afterwards,” said Fahey.  “He goes to the English National Stud, Nicholas (Wrigley, part-owner) is a director there.  I haven’t even thought about next year, we’ll give him his holiday and then we’ll have a think about it.”

Then, an hour later, the trainer and owners – who had teamed up to win the opening nursery with Another Touch – teamed up again to score with Right Touch.

Another Touch and Don’t Touch and Right Touch on Richard Fahey day.

© The Sunday Times, 20th September 2015