Catching Pigeons: Fast Ghaa?
Our weekly Catching Pigeons column brings us all of the most important whispers for Saturday's action around the country.
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Patience could be a policy rewarded in style, both for connections of Ghaawy and for his backers on Saturday.
While a lot of the red-hot action earlier in the afternoon looks tricky to unravel, particularly the red-hot Ebor, the Fly Skywork Airlines London Southend Airport Handicap at Newmarket could prove a little easier to unravel.
Ghaawy has had his share of problems in the first half of this season, explaining his absence from the racecourse until now, but he proved progressive last year, looking a resolute galloper when making all to win a nursery at Yarmouth on his final start.
Richard Hills - who led the way for Jamie Spencer in some respects with regards to his position as head advisor and work-rider for Hamdan Al Maktoum - partnered Ghaawy in a gallop on Racecourse Side with a decent stablemate last Saturday and gave the green light for him to line up here as a result.
This could be a very good weekend for Ghaawy's trainer Sir Michael Stoute and his Kings Fete is also the subject of a very positive message ahead of his run in the Absolute Aesthetics March Stakes at Goodwood.
On ratings, he's got something to do against these older horses but he has improved again since his latest start at this track and can confirm himself a serious player for the St Leger with victory here.
Connections also have Snow Sky as a possible for the oldest Classic, but are interested to see how Kings Fete goes here before making any firmer plans.
Incidentally, a big run from Kings Fete may prove prescient of a similarly good performance from stablemate Rapid Advance, his work-companion, who lines up later on the card.
Efflorescence can boost her hopes of an appearance in one of the top back-end juvenile events with victory in the Group Three Whitely Clinic Prestige Stakes at the same track.
The Godolphin team have not really produced an outstanding juvenile so far this season, but Charlie Appleby holds this daughter of Exceed And Excel in high regard and she certainly looked the part when beating the highly-rated Good Place by two and three quarter lengths at Newmarket five weeks ago. Both the runner-up and the third Vesnina have won since and she has worked very well too.
Penny Pepper missed her intended second outing at Newbury last weekend after heavy rain and connections will be hoping the ground remains good for her new target, the Doom Bar Maiden Fillies' Stakes. Eve Johnson Houghton has enjoyed a great season with her juveniles and this daughter of Fast Company has been working very nicely since her debut second at Windsor 19 days ago.
Against the bigger-name stables, she could well represent some decent value.
It often pays to play the fresh horses at this stage of the season and Hooded certainly fits that profile in the Chichester Observer Handicap. A disappointment on his comeback at Newbury, he was give plenty of time by Roger Charlton and did not reappear until contesting a similar event to this at Ascot last month. He ran well to finish third and gave every indication there was more to come.
Up at York, Moonraker can make it two wins from three starts in the Listed Julia Graves Roses Stakes. Mick Channon does not disguise his high regard for the son of Starspangledbanner, who made an impressive start to his career when scoring at Ascot on his debut in the spring.
Although he ran below expectations behind Ivawood and co in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, he did his chance no good by running too freely, an understandable reaction given his absence from the track going into that contest. It is a major plus that Ryan Moore, who rode him that day, is back aboard this time - not to mention a further sign of confidence from connections - and the return to the minimum trip should help him to settle much better.
In the absence of Kingston Hill, Postponed lit up the first day of the Ebor Festival for Luca Cumani and his victory saw confidence grow that the same connections could also end the meeting on a high note with Connecticut in the Betfred Melrose Stakes.
The three-year-old is on a roll after three consecutive victories and he is fancied to overcome the inevitable hefty rise in his rating after some putting in some very solid work with Postponed among others over the past couple of weeks.
Fellow Newmarket resident Adventure Seeker is nominated as the potential danger. Ed Vaughan's charge had a spin with some of Marco Botti's team last week and did well enough to suggest he can outrun his long odds.
Muhaarar should go well for Charlie Hills, who has had a decent week up at York, in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes. An impressive winner on his debut at Doncaster, he ran a great race to finish third behind Ivawood at Newmarket after a lay-off and then failed to see out the seventh furlong behind the highly rated Kodi Bear at Ascot. The return to six furlongs will suit and he looks capable of improving on what we have seen so far.
Back at Newmarket, Wet Sail is worth a second look in the Stay At Southend Airport Holiday Inn EBF Maiden Stakes that opens the card. He'd ideally prefer a drop of rain in the build-up to this race as connections believe he prefers to get his toe in, but he wasn't fully-cocked when third at Windsor last time and could well further enhance the reputation of his rookie trainer as the season goes on.
Russian Reward is well regarded by the Paul Cole team and he can give his more-experienced rivals something to think about in the evening in the Unibet 90 Insurance Money Back Maiden Stakes. The son of Iffraaj has been working very nicely on the Whatcombe gallops, and may just have the edge over Finton Friend, who is expected to step up on his eyecatching debut in a maiden at Newbury 20 days ago.
Finally, one to look out for in the Blaydon Race at Newcastle on Bank Holiday Monday is Michael Bell's Jargon, who strode out well on the Summer Gallop. He's improving quickly at present.