King Kevin Ryan was delighted to honour the name of Leeds United gaffer Marcelo Bielsa as he went nap at the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup.
The master trainer landed the £150,000 Scottish flat-racing showpiece for a staggering fifth time after his adventurous six-year-old ploughed a lone furrow to success.
Ryan showed all the tactical nous of Elland Road boss Bielsa to tell his jockey Kevin Stott to steer clear of the pack and stick to the nearside rail having been handed a draw right out on the wing in the 24-runner field.
The King Power-owned six-year-old stuck to the touchline as the rest of his rivals from his side wandered infield to join the main group and, almost unnoticed, Bielsa swept up the nearside to strike.
It was a masterful move as the well-supported 15/2 chance chinned hot favourite Great Ambassador with Mr Wagyu third and Motagally fourth.
Ryan, a Leeds fan, had been down to St James’s Park the previous night to see his team draw 1-1 with Newcastle United.
But he was back up the road to Scotland to take his now usual place in the winner’s circle at Ayr in front of a sun-kissed 12,000 crowd and smiled: “Bielsa has done us proud at Leeds.
“I went down to watch the match [at Newcastle ] and I was very encouraged by what I saw, both teams played brilliantly. It could have gone either way.
“Bielsa is a legend in Yorkshire and I’m glad we could honour his name here.”
Ryan had won the big race four times previously with Advanced (2007), Our Johnathan (2011), Captain Ramius (2012) and Brando (2016).
Bielsa’s triumph for No.5 came through long and short term planning.
Long-term, he explained: “It’s one of those things with a horse all year. We always set out with the Ayr Gold Cup in mind.
“Obviously, he ran a great race in the Stewards Cup, but I start out every year with a plan. It doesn’t just come to me the week before.
“These horses have to be prepped and you need a fresh one with a bit of class and to be well handicapped. He ticked all the boxes.
“I love the Western meeting full stop. We meet a lot of people up here and a lot of good owners of other trainers as well.
“I enjoy the three days and it’s a bit of a holiday really.
“The Ayr Gold Cup is very special. It started out with me with Jack Berry.”
Shorter-term, he added: “I told Stotty to make sure he stayed up the rail. I don’t care where anyone else goes, you stay there.
“It was fresh ground and he was saving ground. Once the camera angle changed, I thought he’d have it.”
Stott, who received a massive smacker from girlfriend Megan Nicholls immediately after the race, said: “Kevin was really eager for me to come up that rail. No matter what the others were doing. We went out with a plan. It was fresh ground.
“He’s a very uncomplicated horses and he got into a rhythm. He finishes off his races and he’s definitely deserved a big one.
“I hadn’t been close to this one before and this is a race I always wanted to win.
“When Kevin tells you to do something, it’s easy and it’s worked out.
“Everything went right. It was hard to judge, but coming towards the line, I had a look to see if we were clear. Luckily enough. We were.”
Tim Easterby said it was another-plan that led to his 25/1 Staxton landing the Virgin Bet Silver Cup in the hands of Duran Fentiman.
Keith Dalgleish looked set to keep the prize in Scotland when Soldier’s Minute went clear, but he was reeled in by the six-year-old.
Easterby said: “Duran has been walking the course for three days.”
Hollie Doyle sprinkled some magic onto the day by proving that it is better to be late than not get there at all.
The Pocket Rocket missed the opening race of the day having been held up getting to the course.
However, Doyle got her timing spot-on to get Nazanin up to win the Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes.
Scotland’s winningmost trainer Mark Johnston got the day started with a double on home soil for Highland Premiere and Maydanny and said: “It’s always nice to win.”
Richard Spencer’s Revich was a 20-1 winner, Jason Hart and John Quinn teamed up to land the penultimate contest with Titan Rock and Annandale landed the finale to complete his treble.