Catching Pigeons: Society can Rock

  • Last Updated: July 13 2012, 11:47 BST

Beaten two lengths in the Golden Jubilee Stakes having given away twice that distance when misbehaving in the starting stalls and missing the break, even Andrew 'Lensio' Thornton could see that Society Rock was an unlucky loser last time.

Society Rock: Plenty of stall practice ahead of the Darley July Cup

James 'Bones' Fanshawe has gone to great lengths to try and iron out that kinky side in his five-year-old since, giving him extensive practice in the stalls designed to help him relax.

If the training programme works then expect Society Rock to go very close in the Darley July Cup. There appears to be a bit of a myth that the horse can only run well at Ascot, but that's not really backed up by the formbook and of much greater importance is soft ground which he loves. Let it rain, let it rain.

Paul Hanagan looked a relieved man (but not as relieved as Sheikh Hamdan's advisors who recommended him for the gig) when riding a first Group-race winner in his new blue and white colours on the first day of the July meeting and another nice victory could be on the cards if The Taj is allowed to take his chance in the Rossdales EBF Conditions Stakes.

Strongly advised on this page for both of his starts, our Hannon mole continues to insist that The Taj is a seriously good two-year-old and he didn't fare too badly in the Coventry Stakes last time given that he was always doing too much in the early stages of the race.

Let's hope he settles better here and shows his true colours, because he could be decent.

Although Maxentius isn't the name being touted a few months ago as 'the best two-year-old' by the better talkers in Peter Chapple-Hyam's stable, the trainer is adamant this colt could be very smart. He runs in the Superlative Stakes where William Buick keeps the ride and the stable are absolutely flying at present.

Whether Roger Charlton will run Bated Breath in the July Cup remains to be seen. The trainer is reportedly keen to give it a whirl but the owner may need some persuasion.

But Charlton will have no worries about the ground for Definightly, who looks a big player in the Stakes at Newbury.

By all accounts he endured a bit of a nightmare trip across to Ireland when winning at the Curragh 14 days ago, but Charlton is satisfied that the journey has left no ill-effects and this tough old boy is just the type to shrug it all off and win again.

Firebeam, mentioned favourably here before, looked particularly well in a recent solo on the Limekilns before they closed the gallop and could be worth keeping onside with a saver in the same race.

Henry Candy has hit a bit of form in the last few days and Jocasta Dawn and Herbalist are both fancied for the yard at Salisbury.

Lyric Street is the type to outperform his odds in the John Smith's Silver Cup at York, especially if the ground remains decent in the north. He was pulled out at Newcastle recently when the going was considered too slow, but keeps working like a decent horse at home.

The 53rd John Smith's Cup could well revolve around whether Mijhaar can settle better in the early stages. Given the way he raced so freely at Ascot last time, it was little short of a miracle he managed to hold on for the each-way money. Getting the anchor down on this big brute could be one of Neil Callan's biggest challenges, but he's a classy prospect and the fitting of a hood could help.