Catching Pigeons: Colori the call
Our Catching Pigeons column is back with all the gossip and whispers ahead of the weekend's action.
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Rain is forecast almost everywhere on Saturday which somewhat clouds the picture but Highland Colori looks to have a great chance to break his duck at Group Two level in the Dubai Challenge Stakes at Newmarket.
This race seems to lack a bit of class for such a valuable prize and none are in better form than the selection who certainly impressed when winning the Ayr Gold Cup. He will handle any cut in the ground and has taken his exertions at the Scottish course well.
Hot Streak is another to have bounced out of his last race, an easy Cornwallis Stakes win over Outer Space. He could well surprise a few of the leading players in the Group One Middle Park Stakes if the rain does get into the ground. His trainer reckons he just the type of horse to take the quick return to action in his stride.
The runner up at Ascot had been working very well and to leave him - and the rest of the field - for dead was impressive. If he's at the same level here he'd be there or thereabouts.
The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes has cut up rather disappointingly and it is hard to look past Outstrip after his impressive win over The Grey Gatsby in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. He handled the ground okay on Town Moor and hopefully he will be be able to reproduce that smart turn of foot on what could well be even softer surface.
Tiger Cliff hasn't done anything wrong this season apart from finishing an unlucky second in the Ascot Stakes and he can show himself to be a pattern-race performer by winning the Betfred Cesarewitch off top weight from what looks a very tough draw.
He won the Ebor with a bit in hand when the fact he came from some way off the pace is considered, and he looked in good order in a spin with smart barometer Flow this week.
If you want a big outsider, then the dour mudlover Albert Bridge has to be considered. He ran well off virtually the same mark 12 months ago, but is likely to have conditions even more to his liking this time around. He warmed up for this with two cracking efforts at the Ayr Western Meeting after a summer break and is just given the vote ahead to the Henderson second-string Earth Amber, who could well be well backed on the day if the rain materialises. Her French form is very solid and she has been very working well.
Mushir could just prove too good for Outer Space in the Listed Rockingham Stakes at York. He went into his debut effort with a big reputation and he duly delivered, though the winning margin of a nose was not quite what was anticipated.
Roger Varian has not wasted time stepping him up to Listed level and he looks sure to give a good account of himself with his stable in such good form.
Hopefully there will be a decent crowd at Headquarters on Saturday but beware of large queues at the bar. Students under the age of 25 are to be admitted free of charge meaning a higher than normal percentage may be looking to be pay for their round by card!
However Saturday's best bet on the Flat could be at Wolverhampton in the evening. Aurelia Cotta ran really well on her debut despite being unable to get a clear run and she will be fancied to win the 32 Red Maiden Stakes.
She only finished seventh at Haydock but it looked a pretty fair maiden and the winner Dutch S is very highly rated by the Clive Cox camp. Aurelia Cotta would have finished much closer with a better run and has worked very well since.
We have to pass on a word too for John Gosden's Danjeu who makes his debut in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Maiden Stakes at Goodwood on Sunday. He looked a colt of potential when impressing in a solo spin on the Limekilns recently.
William Haggas' Authorized Too is another name to note in the race and stablemate Penny Drops is a second well-regarded juvenile to represent that stable on the same card in the Greene King IPA Maiden.
Harry Fry's team are still to hit top stride as yet - like most of the top jumps yards - but he will be looking for a big run from Thomas Brown in the bumper at Chepstow. The son of Sir Harry Lewis won two points for Richard Barber last season and while he has plenty of improvement in him physically, he has shown abundant ability in his preliminary work.
Balder Succes has been sharpened up with a couple of runs on the Flat recently and he can bring fitness to bear in the BetVictor Robert Mottram Memorial Trophy Novices' Chase. He was a classy performer over hurdles when at his best and he has schooled well over the larger obstacles at home.
Hydrogen continues to attract plenty of interest on the gallops and Kevin Darley popped down to have a sit on him this week. He's been left in the Racing Post Trophy but one or two in the camp seen to think it may be best to wait for next season with this very exciting prospect.
Other names to note with 2014 in mind are Gothic, who has taken a step forward from his recent debut and went well in a spin on the Round Gallop, and Maghaanem.
Richard Hills had a sit on Ed Dunlop's charge again and he will leave his debut sixth at Kempton this week well behind in the future.
On the subject of looking to the future, Windfast is a name to note ahead of the Wymeswold Conditions Stakes at Leicester on Tuesday.
He beat his stablemate Mawfoor to break his duck back in May and had been due to run in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but a setback prevented him from taking his chance and he has not raced since. However, he is now back in good form and is working very well.