Catching Pigeons: Glorious day
Ed Walker advertised his training talents with a double at Newmarket's July meeting but has had to settle for four second places since then. It's high time for Walker to regain the winning thread and he can strike with Glorious Empire in the Weatherbys Private Banking Handicap at Ascot.
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Walker's training career has proved a little more of a slow-burner than might have been expected since he branched out on his own, but a big win in Australia last year with Ruscello once again higlighted his talents.
Glorious Empire's victory over Johnno was one of Walker's two July Meeting strikes and that form has been franked since by the runner-up running really well off a higher mark in a competitive handicap back at the same track last weekend.
The cloudburst that hit Ascot during racing on Friday afternoon won't have done this horse's chances any harm and he looked well in some routine exercise on the Al Bahathri on Tuesday morning.
At a price, stablemate Invincible Gold is also worth a close look in the opening maiden at Newmarket.
He failed to live up to stable or betting market expectations first time out at Leicester in May, but works like a decent horse at home and again looked the part on the Al Bahathri.
Back at Ascot, Henry Candy can continue his great run of success with his two year olds with Goldcrest in the Group Three Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes.
The Kingstone Warren trainer has won two Listed races in the past week with Alonsoa and Limato and there is plenty of confidence behind Goldcrest, despite the presence of the highly rated Osaila from the Richard Hannon camp.
Like her two highly-rated stablemates, the Assertive filly was strongly fancied to win on what was her second start at Newbury last month, and her supporters were given no reason to think that victory was ever in doubt. She has worked very well since.
Belgian Bill, the winner of the 2013 Royal Hunt Cup, could be the one to be on in the ridiculously-competitive Longines International. George Baker had hoped to follow up that victory in the Royal meeting's most prestigious handicap last month, but 'Bill' met with serious traffic problems throughout the closing stages and could not deliver a serious challenge.
Despite his rider having to drop his hands in the closing stages, he still managed to finish seventh, and hopes are high he can gain deserved compensation in what looks a cracking renewal of this valuable prize. He has gone nicely at home since.
Ayaar is another with major claims, but any further rain could see him pulled out in order to wait until conditions are more suitable. His trainer Luca Cumani is keen not to see a potentially-favourable handicap mark wasted.
The opening Titanic Belfast Winkfield Stakes is a particularly competitive affair for a Listed race.
Kodi Bear and Muharrar both carry some confidence from their respective yards in the Lambourn Valley, but there's also a particularly strong message from the Stoute team over the prospects of Disegno, despite the fact that on the formbook he has plenty to find having taken only an ordinary maiden at Kempton.
Not unexpectedly, there are positive messages for most of the field in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The Irish pigeons are sweet on Magician after a better effort at Royal Ascot, while although John Gosden may briefly have been felled by Shiekh Hamdan's late call on Taghrooda's absence from last weekend's Irish Oaks, she hasn't missed a beat in her work.
Narrow preference is for Telescope, whose various foibles were well documented in this column last season. If it wasn't his dislike for travel, it was his refusal to settle in the early stages, and if it wasn't either of those it was his phsyical and mental immaturity that kept catching him out.
But that all seems behind him now. His regular work-rider is of the opinion that the horse has developed a new-found sense of confidence since his Hardwicke victory last month, and in his homework he's become the consumate professional.
Telescope, incidentally, was due to have a final stretch of his legs in company with Estimate on Tuesday morning but Stoute's Gold Cup winner (in the news for more unfortunate reasons earlier this week) was in no mood to play ball. She has always had her own ideas about how and when she wants to work and the idea was quickly abandoned in favour of two solo canters. Her antics are no bad sign ahead of Goodwood however, as she tends to be perfectly behaved on the track.
The Longines Ladies Handicap is often looked on with trepidation as a betting medium (sadly the days of simply looking for the horse trained by Stoute and ridden by Cowdrey are over), but the Richard Hannon camp are confident of a big run from Red Refraction.They have booked Megan Nicholls for the ride, and believe she can see off Hadaj and the brilliant Serena Brotherton, who is usually the one to beat in this type of race these days.
Roger Charlton has his horses in great nick and Hooded should go well on his return from a two month break in the Canisbay Bloodstock Handicap. He is the most unexposed in this field with just three outings behind him, but he did manage a win on his second start as a juvenile.He ran poorly on his comeback at Newbury, but his stable were just going into a quiet spell at the time, and he looks worth another chance. The step up to 12 furlongs should suit him well.
Back at Newmarket, Charlton should also go close with the lightly-weighted Major Jack in the featured Adnams Broadside Handicap at Newmarket. He only won a very weak race to get off the mark on his latest start, but is improving and gets a handy 7lb from the well fancied Greeb from the Charlie Hills' stable.
Ralph Beckett is still a local trainer to Salisbury despite his move away from Whitsbury a couple of years ago and he should have the regulars smiling after Lysander The Greek tackles the Bathwick Tyres Maiden on the evening card.
There was plenty of stable support behind the son of on his debut at Ascot 15 days ago, but he ruined his chance by running green after a slow start. The Beckett team are usually pretty accurate with their assessments of homework so expect a significant improvement from that first run in what looks an interesting race.
The CPA Scaffolding Carnarvon Handicap for Gentleman Amateur Riders could well fall into the same category as the Ladies Handicap at Ascot as far as investing goes, but we are assured that Saeed Bin Suroor's Almaas will go well despite a racecourse absence of more than 670 days.
Among those to look out for at Goodwood next week are Sir Mark Prescott's Big Thunder, who worked well with Pallasator in midweek, and not for the first time in the last couple of weeks looked like a horse ready to do business. He hasn't always worked the house down in the past but appears to have turned a corner now. He - along with Pallasator - is in the mile-and-three-quarters handicap on the Tuesday that often serves as a decent trial for the Ebor.
Also worth a close look in the opening contest of the meeting is Stomachion, who worked well with the useful Snow Sky in midweek, after which Ryan Moore was immediately booked for Goodwood. Second in a decent handicap on Derby Day, he's progressing all the time.