Catching Pigeons: Spin it up
Our weekly column has the latest whispers for the weekend action and also news from the gallops in Newmarket.
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Michael Bell played host to a galaxy of stars when working some of his in-form team on the Summer Gallop in Newmarket on Wednesday and the trainer is hoping to keep the winning momentum going this weekend.
Okay, stars might be stretching things a little but it was good to see Bell with the likes of Peter Stanley, Hugo Lascelles and ace show jumper Tim Gredley, all of whose families have supported the trainer through times thick and thin.
Zacynthus is an interesting runner at Newbury, but arguably the trainer's most intriguing representative this weekend is Galizzi in the closing Jockey Club Supports Racing Welfare Handicap at Newmarket.
He's blown his chances by racing too freely in both of his last two starts and can get himself into a bit of a lather sometimes, but he continues to work like a good horse at home and Bell turns to Kieren Fallon in a bid to get the horse to settle properly from the start here.
Fallon is principally at Newmarket in order to ride Winter Thunder for Godolphin in the Betfair Supports Racing Welfare Handicap earlier on the card. If he's in the same form as when dotting up at this track last month, he'll take some stopping.
Cheveley Park have put up some sponsorship money for the opening fillies' nursery at Newmarket, but they appear to have a great chance of winning back a chunk of the investment with Renaissant in the seven-furlong dash.
The Hannon team love to win these valuable juvenile handicaps and are looking for a big run from this daughter of Dutch Art who followed a creditable debut fifth with two placed efforts in good class maidens at Sandown and Lingfield. All three races crucially came over the minimum trip and she is expected to be suited by this step up to seven furlongs.
Belardo can put his season back on course with victory in the Listed Denford Stud Stakes at Newbury. The Newbury executive and the locally-based sponsors of this Listed prize (better known as the Washington Singer) will surely be disappointed that just four stand their ground from a fair-looking 12-horse five day entry, but it still looks an interesting affair and Roger Varian will be keen for Belardo to put his disappointing effort behind Ivawood at Newmarket behind him.
The son of Lope De Vega was found to be not quite right after that performance, but his recent work suggests he is now back on song after a short break.
Penny Pepper gets the vote to kick the meeting off on the right note for Eve Johnson Houghton in the Play Today's Scoop6 EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes.
The Blewbury trainer has enjoyed a very successful season with what is a relatively small team of two-year-olds and there was a very strong message for the Fast Company filly on her debut at Windsor last month.The rumour mill suggested her work had been of a very high order, but she was just found out after running green by the highly rated.
She has come on for the run and is tipped to have the edge over Charlie Hills' well regarded Hundi, who is not the sharpest out of the blocks at the start, and Henry Candy's newcomer Exoplanet Blue.
Spinatrix is something of a Ripon specialist and she can overcome a three-month absence and win the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap.
A good number of top jockeys believe the Yorkshire track can prove tricky for many horses to handle, but Spinatrix seems to relish its straight six furlongs and its various lumps and bumps, and is seeking a fourth course win here.
Spinatrix has also run some great races in defeat, most notably in this race 12 months ago when he was beaten only a neck by this year's Wokingham winner Baccarat. She has been given a break since disappointing in a Listed event at Haydock in May, but is reported back in good form and has been helpfully dropped 3lb by the handicapper for that performance.
Make It Up was one of those to defect from the Denford, but he will see action instead in the EBF Novice Stakes at Lingfield - unfortunately, he appears to have ended up in a race every bit as competitive but for 150% less prize money.
Sent to Epsom for his racecourse debut 16 days ago, he treated what can be a tricky course for the debutant with absolute disdain. He knew his job really well until idling a bit in front perhaps in the closing stages, and went down the hill and around Tattenham Corner as if on wheels. He should be sharper for the run and could prove the value bet to see off three from Godolphin.
John Gosden will be looking for a lucrative week over the four days of York next week to strengthen his position as Champion trainer elect, and one to look out for as an each-way investment could be Marzocco in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes.
He has been something of a nearly horse this season, but his work recently has been very sound.
Indeed, when Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute headed up to the Short Gallop on Bury Side on Thursday morning, it was a case of it being harder to find a horse that wasn't a pattern-race performer, either already or in the making.
Within a few minutes, the likes of Estimate, Snow Sky, Kings Fete and others were followed up by Kingman, Western Hymn and Eagle Top. The last-named, in particular, looked in fine fettle ahead of his possible tilt at the Juddmonte International or the Great Voltigeur next week, working exuberantly.
The same gallop was used by Varian on Wednesday for Cursory Glance and Andrea Atzeni and the pair looked in great form ahead of next week's Lowther Stakes, as did another possible International contender Mukhadram when he stretched his legs.
Another eyecatching worker on Friday morning was Lady Cecil's Mighty Yar, united with Ryan Moore in an exercise spin that dropped a major hint as to who might be taking the reins in next week's Betfred Ebor.
Moore also rode Prince Gagarin on Racecourse Side on Tuesday morning and Ed Dunlop's smart juvenile remains one to be very interested in wherever he turns up next.
Kevin Ryan is one of a healthy clutch of premier-league trainers based in God's Own County looking to grab a good slice of the booty over the four days at York next week and has exciting two-year-old Flaming Spear in the Group Three Acomb Stakes on the first day.
The Hambleton trainer just missed out with The Grey Gatsby in the same race 12 months ago, and he will be keen to go one better this time around. However, there is still a chance the son of Lope De Vega will stick to six furlongs and attempt to follow up last month's course-and-distance win in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes on Saturday.
Away from York, two others to look at next week are Perfect Persuasion at Windsor on Monday evening and the Martyn Meade-trained Glanely in the Weddings at Great Yarmouth Racecourse Handicap, who strode out particularly well when spotted doing some work in midweek.