Ayr top racing tip: Merricourt targets title defence on turf return

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Merricourt has been well beaten on all seven occasions he has raced on the uphill Tapeta track at Newcastle, so the fact that he suffered the same fate there on both his runs so far this year is of little concern.

On his first run last year, Merricourt was also given a spin around Newcastle to prepare him for the turf season and was unsurprisingly never in contention. Then, on his next run, as he was returned to turf, he only just missed the places in a 12-runner handicap at Musselburgh, a run he followed by winning today's event ten days later. Merricourt has been given a similar preparation this season, except that he has bypassed Musselburgh and had an extra spin on Tapeta instead, before coming here to defend his prize. Suggested bet: Merricourt to win the 16:40 at Ayr

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His winning run in this contest last year came off a mark of 64, which was two pounds higher than he has this time. The ground was good but today's quicker ground will go in his favour because his best-ever turf performance, which also came at this venue, was on good-to-firm ground. He was ridden last year by Andrew Mullen, who is in the saddle again this time and, very significantly, the seven-year-old wore cheekpieces, which haven't been used for his two recent prep outings at Newcastle but which are back in place ready for this targeted event. Next best bet: Global Humor to win the 16:40 at Ayr

At the prices a good-value next-best bet might be Global Humor, who produced some solid course-and-distance form last season, and he enjoys an impressive record under Paul Mulrennan, particularly at this venue where their partnership has returned figures of 21222143.

With a season debut under a claiming rider as a pipe-opener, and with Mulrennan back in the saddle, Global Humor should prove a different proposition, although it has to be noted that all his turf wins have come in headgear, which is strangely absent today.

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