Catching Pigeons: Jerry can do it
Last week's Catching Pigeons found winners at 7/4, 2/1 and 100/30 from just five Saturday selections. This week we bring you more of the big news from racing's major training centres.
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A cold snap is forecast to hit racing in the next few days, just as the decent ground that trainers have been dreaming about for months was starting to arrive.
Forgotten Voice has been towards the top of the work charts for weeks at Seven Barrows, mixing it with the very best in the yard and never looking out of place as he strode out alongside the likes of Champion Hurdle candidates Darlan and Grandouet.
On the face of things, he looks anything but thrown-in off an official mark of 140 for his handicap debut in the two-mile William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
However Jerry McGrath takes a valuable 5lb off and on the basis of his homework he ought to go very close on his first start for nearly five months. He's been ready to go for ages now, but Nicky Henderson has been absolutely determined to wait for some better ground.
With the pacesetting Laterly in the line-up, he ought to get a decent pace to track in the early stages and that's another positive as he has been known to take too keen a hold for his own good in the past.
McGrath has a big day in store as he also rides the well-fancied Bear's Affair in the Lanzarote Hurdle earlier on the card.
Again his conditionals' claim is the all-important factor here as Henderson doesn't like his horses to run under top weight if it can be avoided.
Connections feared the soft ground first time out having always thought of him as a good-ground horse but he hosed up despite those worries and may simply have progressed again this season. There isn't much between him and stablemate Oscara Dara though.
One three-runner novice chase was scrapped at Sandown last week, but a reminder that such events can prove interesting ought to come in the second race on Kempton's card when Kie tackles Tetlami.
Kie made an impressive start to his novice chasing career at Musselburgh in November, attacking his fences with relish. But the irrepressible Henderson could also get on the scoresheet here as Tetlami has also shown great alacrity in his home schooling.
The original plan was for Charlie Longsdon to give Pete The Feat a break after his latest gruelling success in the Mandarin at Newbury, but the horse has come out of the race bouncing, forcing the trainer to examine taking a different route.
This contest, the Betfred Classic Chase, is his toughest test, not least because Pete The Feat has taken yet another hike in the weights, but his trainer is very hopeful.
However, those wanting something at a far meatier price are advised to consider Rigadin de Beauchene in the same race.
Even though his latest second to Well Refreshed has been franked, connections felt he ran a little bit flat that day and perhaps the race came soon enough after previous exertions at Newbury.
His young jockey Robbie Dunne is a popular guy who thoroughly deserves a high-profile success in a contest such as this.
Some snow is forecast to reach Wetherby, but Oliver Sherwood is hoping that racing goes ahead as he takes Many Clouds north to run in the in the opening novice hurdle.
He's no Puffin Billy, but Sherwood was seriously considering the Tolworth for this chap, before deciding to aim for the final of this EBF series at Sandown in March. However he gets on here, he's one to keep in mind for that event.
Marco Botti still hasn't been able to complete his much-trumpeted move across Newmarket after a series of teething problems at his new yard, but the Italian is still churning out the winners and his Ogaritmo is one to look at on Lingfield's all-weather card.
But the pick of the betting opportunities on that card could come when Hard Walnut makes his debut in the three-year-olds' six-furlong maiden earlier on the programme.
This is Olly Stevens's first runner as a trainer for the Qatari Pearl Bloodstock operation and young Stevens is said to be particularly keen to start off with a winner. Jamie Spencer rides.