Catching Pigeons: Go for Gold
Our gossip column returns with all the whispers ahead of the weekend's action.
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Satellite can repel a strong local challenge and win the Betfred Gold Cup Handicap for William Haggas at Newbury on Saturday.
This race is usually won by a classy performer and this son of Danehill Dancer looked a potential star in the making when landing an easy five- length win on his debut at Ripon three weeks ago. Although he has to contend with lack of experience on this handicap bow, he has thrived since that win and connections believe he is nicely weighted.
Satellite only joined Haggas at the start of the season having found a number of minor problems holding him up when trained by Lady Cecil.
Bronze Angel ran a pleasing first race of the season in the Spring Cup here last month and he should go well in the Betfred Handicap over seven furlongs. Marcus Tregoning's charge looked a real threat before fading in the closing stages to finish fifth, and the Whitsbury stable believe they have him back to his best.
Dutch S is well regarded by the Clive Cox team and she can edge out the promising Tides Reach in the Follow Scoop6 Fillies Handicap. She justified stable confidence with a game win on her debut at Haydock and was not disgraced when chasing home the well-regarded Musical Comedy on her only other start here in October. Cox has been in no rush to get her back into the thick of the action, but she has done well during the winter and should improve further.
The Lambourn trainer should also go close with Fear Or Favour in the coral.co.uk Sprint Trophy at Newmarket. This looks an ultra-competitive handicap, but Fear Or Favour is at the right end of the handicap and has in-form apprentice Ryan Tate's allowance to call on. His comeback win at Bath suggests he is an improver and he hails from a stable which makes a habit of bringing this type of horse forwards. He will love the fast ground and may just have the edge over the Roger Charlton pair Stars Above Me and Stomp.
Brian Meehan is starting to wind up the production rate and one of the more interesting of his seven runners spread far and wide on Saturday is Windfast in the Listed Tamdown King Charles II Stakes. Highly rated by his trainer last season, he had his progress stalled by a training problem after beating four subsequent winners (including the Dewhurst Stakes runner up Cable Bay) in a six runner maiden at Haydock.
Given his stable's slow run into form and his near year lay-off, he was entitled to need the run on his return to action in the Greenham Stakes, but he ran a fine race on ground which did not really suit to finish seventh behind 2000 Guineas runner up Kingman, and 2000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder. His work has gone well since and he will be suited by this faster ground.
Spark Plug was another of Meehan's better two year olds last season and he looks worth an interest on his return from a long absence in the Fine & County Bawtry Handicap at Doncaster. He is making his first appearance since winning his only start so far at Bath last Summer, but has rewarded his trainer's patience this spring with some useful recent work. Although he is sure to come on for the run, he has found a race which has cut up a lot from the five-day stage and a big run is expected.
Kevin Ryan enjoyed a fabulous York and will be hoping the success continues even closer to home at Thirsk. One of his more interesting runners is the newcomer Bacall in the first division of the EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes.
In the same ownership as Bogart and Astaire, she has been named to give one of the female Hollywood legends a chance to shine, and with very positive news from her home gallops, the chances are she will do just that!
On the same theme, keep an eye out for a two year old from the same team called Brando. Apparently he works nicely - let's hope he does not turn out to be as enigmatic as his namesake.
Roger Varian, who had no fewer than seven jockeys riding work for him on Friday morning, has a nice team of juveniles this season and Haxby is expected to strike at the second time of asking in the Robinsons Of Bawtry Maiden Auction Stakes.
Jeremy Noseda would welcome a winner of two and has a four horses heading to Newmarket on Saturday. Sloane Avenue has long been held in high regard and makes his eagerly-awaited return to action in the listed Tamdown Fairway Stakes while Evident has been pleasing in his work ahead of a reappearance in the Joe Breen And Sarah Morris Memorial Handicap.
Nicky Henderson loves to get a run into some of his babies at this time of year and he saddles a potentially very talented performer in the bumper at Market Rasen on Sunday. Altior, a son of High Chaparral, has been working very well and should be up to making a winning debut.
Looking further ahead, Kingman continues to give all the right signs at home ahead of the Irish 2000 Guineas next weekend and stretched out well on the Limekilns this week.
On Friday Jamie Spencer had another sit on the very expensive – and as yet unraced – Hydrogen. He worked in front of his owners and is nearing a racecourse debut. He is of course a half-brother to Authorized, whose owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar are reportedly set to send horses to George Margarson for the first time.
Finally Dank is back in work for Sir Michael Stoute as he plots a European campaign for the Breeders’ Cup heroine.