Catching Pigeons: Test of mettle
Having forked out well over a million quid for Testosterone at the sales last November, connections of the ex-French filly haven't been left with much to show for their money this season.
- Related Content
But Ed Dunlop is convinced that we are all still to see the best of this filly and she is worth a small bet at a meaty price in the Fillies and Mares race on Ascot's Champions Day card on Saturday.
The standard of her work is high and she looked on good terms with herself when galloping under Ryan Moore in midweek.
As usual, it's not all good news, because having pulled her out of Arc weekend at the last minute when conditions were thought to have gone against her, Dunlop has been left looking for similar ground for this race. But there's still no doubt that on the basis of her reputation at home, Testosterone is well overpriced against more-exposed rivals.
There is no evidence at home that Great Heavens has gone over the top for the season, but it's surely asking too much for her to shrug off the effects of such a hard race in the Arc only 13 days ago. It would be no surprise to see her prove weak in the betting.
Punters looking to take on the short-priced favourites that pepper the Champions Day card might also want to take an interest that Her Majesty could have the pleasure of presenting the prize in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes to herself, as owner of Carlton House.
To avoid being sent to the tower, it's probably best not to be too honest about this horse's performance last time out - let's just say that Carlton House didn't look the most willing performer in the closing stages.
But rather than taking on board some of the more extreme suggestions, such as separating the royal horse from his crown jewels, Sir Michael Stoute has given Carlton House a three-month course specifically aimed at rekindling his love for the game. Even this week, while the rest of the Stoute team were on Side Hill, Carlton House was doing his own thing with just one companion.
There's definitely a form case behind the expectation a good run too - don't forget how easily he swept past So You Think in the Prince of Wales's Stakes before being outbattled close home.
Incidentally his younger stablemate Telescope won't run in next weekend's Racing Post Trophy, Stoute having decided that the colt had done enough for the year, but there was nothing wrong with his work on Tuesday morning and those tempted to add him to their ante-post portfolios for next year's Classics shouldn't be discouraged.
Royal Rock is another possible outsider to consider at an each-way price in the sprint. He produced the performance of his life to finish fourth in the race 12 months ago and trainer Chris Wall has been looking forward to running him in this race all season long. Given that the soft ground is also in his favour, he's an insulting price.
And Frankel? Sir Henry was out with Lady Jane on the gallops on Friday morning to watch the horse's final canter and there wasn't a moment's drama. Everything has gone perfectly to plan. That doesn't mean he will win, of course, but if he lines up nobody at Warren Place is expecting anything other than another victory.
Over the jumps, Baby Mix's reappearance should be worth tuning in for at Cheltenham, with Paddy Brennan reportedly very keen on the horse's prospects this season. He wasn't reliable last season, but may yet prove a different prospect if his issues have been ironed out. If he can give 8lb to Dodging Bullets, that would be a serious performance.
Nadiya De La Viga, who runs 35 minutes earlier in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase, is a bit of a fragile flower who struggles to hold condition when in full training. But first time out could be the time to catch her and the Henderson team are more than hopeful of a big run.