Catching Pigeons: Top chance?
Can William Buick have the last laugh at Royal Ascot on Friday? Our Catching Pigeons column thinks so.
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The rumour mill suggested that connections of Western Hymn weren't entirely over the moon with the ride given to their horse in the Investec Derby a fortnight ago and that impression appears to have been confirmed with the booking of Richard Hughes for the colt in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot on Friday.
But Buick might just have the last laugh aboard stablemate Eagle Top at a double-figure price. Always a well-regarded type, he justified plenty of stable confidence on his debut at the Newbury April meeting and was a hot order for a low-key Leicester handicap on his only subsequent start. However he flattened out very quickly when asked for his effort, and could only finish fourth.
Trainer John Gosden gave him an easy spell afterwards in order to correct what went wrong in that race, but the colt has bloomed again since and thoroughly earned his place in this line-up on his homework.
J Wonder could prove an interesting each-way bet in the Coronation Stakes, also at very tasty double-figure odds.
The winner of the Group Three Guineas trial at Newbury in April, she was too keen in the French 1000 Guineas and faded to finish seventh after taking the lead. If she settles better this time, she should make her presence felt, even in this decent line-up. The fact is that her trainer is in much better form now than he was earlier in the campaign.
Hughie Morrison has done a great job in getting Chil The Kite back to his best form this season - indeed all three of his runners at the meeting this week have run blinders - and it is to be hoped he has done the same for Pastoral Player, the each-way choice in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
The seven-year-old is pretty determined about doing things his own way in races, but he has undeniable talent, and was second in the Group Two on this course less than two years ago.
He has dropped a stone in the ratings since those heady days, but an eye-catching comeback in the Victoria Cup suggests he retains the ability to win a big handicap when things drop right.
The Pigeon is hoping it's a good day for longshots because he's got another one in the opening Albany Stakes in the shape of the James Tate-trained Secret Liaison.
Tate's top two-year-old has been a handy sort from the start and carried plenty of stable confidence when making her way north to Thirsk for a winning debut last month.
Perhaps that wasn't the hottest of maidens, but the trainer has high hopes for this February-foaled daughter of Dandy Man and believes she won't be out of place, even in this strong line-up.
Ed Dunlop could do with a decent winner to help but his bumpy start to the season and Contributer was noted putting in some decent work last week with a smart companion. He's one to consider in the Wolferton Stakes.