Catching Pigeons: A Muth-bet
In the immediate aftermath of the fall at Goodwood earlier this week that left him nursing a fractured left arm, Paul Hanagan will have had a lot of thoughts and most of them were probably 'ouch', or at least along those lines.
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But the likeable and in-form jockey has also admitted since that another of his initial thoughts concerned the fact that he will be missing the ride on Muthmir in the Stewar... sorry, 32Red Cup.
Hanagan's mood may not be improved on Saturday afternoon if substitute jockey Dane O'Neill can deliver the goods on last weekend's Sky Bet Dash winner, and trainer William Haggas is not lacking confidence in the lightly-raced four-year-old's chances.
Yes, there's a possibility that two big races in a week could prove too much to ask of Muthmir, but a gentle spin out in midweek satisfied Haggas that the horse has taken everything in his stride and he could well prove to be some way ahead of the handicapper, even with a 6lb penalty.
The greatest danger could come from within as fellow Newmarket trainer Robert Cowell also has a strong contender in Intrinsic.
The Newmarket trainer has brought the son of Oasis Dream along steadily this season to win both his races in the manner of an improving sort.
Those successes, plus his one for former trainer Sir Michael Stoute last season, have come on three different types of ground, and it would appear that all surfaces come virtually the same to him. With rain showers in the forecast, that could prove an invaluable asset - and rain-softened ground would be a negative for Muthmir - but the fact he is still difficult for the handicapper to weigh up may be the biggest aid to his cause.
Mission Approved gets the vote in the opening consolation race for those who missed the cut for the big one, the 32RedSport.com Handicap.
Luca Cumani's good-looking bay often takes the eye on the Heath but has failed to convert some good workouts into victories to this point. He's worth another chance in a bigger field where his cruising speed could prove a greater asset than in the contests he has been pitched into so far this season.
Cumani also looks to have a decent chance with Second Step in the following handicap, but with good messages for at least four or five of the field, it looks too competitive an event to be tackling for punting purposes.
Richard Hannon's Lethal Legacy ran a pleasing race on his debut in an above-average heat at Newbury and he should progress well enough from the race to confirm the form with old rival Fieldsman in the Natwest Ahead For Business Maiden Stakes.
The Cheveley Park Stud Supporting Alzheimer's Research at Newmarket has deservedly received a big entry given the prize money on offer and could provide Mark Johnston yet another great opportunity to bag another valuable handicap.
The unbeaten Enlacing lacks the experience of some of her rivals, but can be no denying the value of the form of her debut win at Hamilton. She looks to have been given a chance by the handicapper, and she may just have the edge over the fancied Zifena and Dittander, with out Middleham mole most enthused by her chances.
Marmoom has had his problems but always been highly rated by connections and finally came good in a maiden on this course two weeks ago. He now makes his debut at this level in the opening Mattioli Woods Handicap, and looks on a very workable mark of 82.
David Elsworth started the season well with his juveniles and he will be hoping to continue the success as the back-end draws ever nearer. He had two interesting fillies entered in the Alzheimer's Research Maiden Fillies Stakes and runs Titled Lady, who produced a promising first appearance on this course without ever threatening the leaders.She will have learned plenty from those exertions and should go well at an each-way price.
Cascades, who carries the familiar colours of Jeff Smith, was the one jocked up at the five-day stage by the veteran handler for the seven furlong heat, and connections are reportedly more than hopeful she can make her mark in due course - possibly at Salisbury, one of the owner/breeder's favourite courses?
Golden Town is expected to continue his rapid rise up the ratings with victory in the Standard Life Investments Handicap, and his trainer Saeed Bin Suroor camp is also also confident of a big run from L'Orfeo in the Barclays Bank Handicap, if the forecast rain gets into the ground. Should he be withdrawn because of the fast ground, he is one to note.
Clive Cox will be hoping to make it third time lucky with Laidback Romeo in the Unison Fighting For Better Pay Median Auction maiden Stakes (division one) at Doncaster. The Beechdown trainer set a stiff first examination for the son of Kodiac at Newbury and he acquitted himself well in finishing third to subsequent Group Two winner Estidhkaar in what has proved a very hot maiden.
Although he may have been a little below par on his only subsequent start at Leicester, the race has again worked out remarkably well. Laidback Romeo gave the impression that he would be suited by this step up to seven furlongs, and his stable's two year olds are in great form at present.
Michael Bell has an interesting debutant in the same race in the form of Sonar and a small saver is advised. This colt worked well with a useful stablemate in midweek and Bell's juveniles are fairly forward this season.
Sir Michael Stoute's Pas De Cheval (affectionately known as Pass The Shovel at Freemason Lodge) hails from a quirky but talented family of stayers. He appears to have taken after his siblings rather than speedy sire Pivotal, but could just be overpriced for the Unison Essential Protection Maiden Stakes.
Yes, he does appear to have a touch of the slows, but the visor helped at Pontefract last time and he is a willing enough worker at home. It took some time for his half-brother Patkai to get the idea about racing and he might just be the same.
Back to the north and news from Kevin Ryan's yard. Ryan already has one exciting son of Lope de Vega in recent York winner Flaming Spear - well flagged up by the Pigeon before his debut - and hopes are high he has another promising sort primed by the same sire. Mount Tahan did not take up a couple of options this week, but word has it that he is working very well and will be seen in public for the first time very soon.