Catching Pigeons: Take on Rain
Our Catching Pigeons column brings you the latest gossip from the training centres ahead of the weekend and York next week.
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With a few showers about at Newbury it could, ironically, pay to take on unbeaten South African star Soft Falling Rain on his British debut in the Group 3 Betfred Hungerford Stakes.
Mike De Kock's horse was spotted working on the Golden Mile in Newmarket earlier in the week and the word is he might not be 100 per cent spot on for Saturday's assignment with a trip to France his major European aim.
The race has cut up disappointingly, but John Gosden's Gregorian has some very solid form behind him this season and has been working very well from all accounts.
He could be the one to benefit from the 2lb penalty Soft Falling Rain has to burden and at the prices the Princess Haya of Jordan-owned grey is much preferred.
Earlier on the Newbury card Michael Bell's Speedy Approach is the one to be on in the Washington Singer Stakes.
The son of New Approach has been catching the Pigeon's eye on the gallops in Newmarket for some time now and has been working very well on his return from a break.
He won't mind the ground either and with Johnny Murtagh booked for the ride a big performance is likely.
Talking of Michael Bell, his Born To Surprise has a chance in the Betfred Mobile Sports Ladies Day Handicap at 15.50.
He's a strong horse and worked well on the Watered Gallop in the week. Paul Hanagan takes the ride and though he hasn't got his head in front this season, he's now only 1lb higher than his last winning mark.
Look out for Secret Talent in the same contest, though he may need the run. He was tailed off in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he was struck into and came home with a foot injury. The ground was much too fast for him that day, but the recent rain here will suit him and the step back to seven furlongs is also a plus.
In the opening maiden at Newbury both Country Drive and Fashion Fund should be considered.
The former, Ed Dunlop's Shirocco filly, looks a likely type judging by her homework while the latter, trained by Brian Meehan, is expected to step up on her eye-catching debut.
She saw plenty of daylight from her disadvantageous draw in what looked a hot race at Goodwood, but still managed to be one of the last off the bridle. When she did blow up, she was given a very easy time of it and a much improved performance is anticipated after some very soild subsequent work.
Biographer will appreciate the recent rain and could be one to be on at in the Group 3 Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes.
He has been waiting for the rain for most of the summer and David Lanigan has him in good nick for what looks a winnable race if he can repeat the form of his first two outings this season.
His trainer thinks he can continue to improve and this looks a sound trip given the likelihood of more rain.
The main danger is Lost In The Moment.
There are a few to keep an eye on up at Chester too, with Mick Channon's Lincoln one such horse in the opening Hemingway Maiden.
He's shown only glimpses of his home form on the racecourse, but he looks well worth persevering with and should appreciate the step up to seven furlongs. He is drawn much better than his fancied Lambourn rival Gown.
James Tate takes Iptisam up to the Roodee and he's worth considering along with fellow Newmarket hopeful Madame Vestris (Sir Michael Stoute) on the same card.
Looking ahead to York next week the Ebor is shaping up to be a great race with many a plot said to be taking place.
Apparently it's been all about the Ebor all year long for Caravan Rolls On while leading hope Tiger Cliff worked well with Simulate this week.
Sir Mark Prescott's Pallasator hasn't been seen on the racetrack this year but we've been keeping a close eye on him on the gallops. He was impressive in his work on Tuesday, but wasn't so hot on Friday morning.
The Lady Cecil-trained pair Riposte and Wild Coco worked together nicely on the Watered Gallop and both could turn up in the Yorkshire Oaks next week.
Hillstar worked in a hood on the Watered Gallop earlier in the week - perhaps to help him stand out more than anything else. Only the other week he got loose when going down the Al Bahathri and it took them half an hour to find him before they spotted him in the woods!
We'll leave the best for last and the nap for York: Godolphin's Landaman who looked exceptional under Silvestre De Sousa on the Al Bahathri recently.