The Secret's out at Beverley
Our Catching Pigeons column has all the gossip from the major training centres ahead of this weekend's action.
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Pearl Secret can bounce back to winning form in the Listed Betfred Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes. This might be one of the classier events staged at the East Yorkshire venue, but it marks a big drop in grade for David Barron's speedster, who took on some of the very best sprinters in the first half of the season and finished a close second to Hot Streak in the Group Two Temple Stakes.
Although his best form is on soft ground, he has produced some solid efforts on a faster surface, and the conditions of this race suit him very well.
Andrew Balding loves to have winners at Chester and can kick the meeting off on the right note with Dungannon in the Sportingbet Handicap.
The seven year old showed signs of a return to form after a series of below performances at Ascot last time and should go well from what will be the best of the draw. Any further easing of the ground on Friday evening will aid his cause and he is on a very favourable mark with promising apprentice Kieren Shoemark taking off seven pounds.
Whiplash Willie has shown his ability to win after a long absence and he should also go well for Balding on his return from a summer break in the Betdaq Chester Stakes.
He had been off the course two-and-a-half years when he made a winning return to action at Salisbury in May, and was not disgraced when fourth to Brown Panther in a Group Three at Sandown later the same month. This looks an ideal race for his return to action and the fact that he is a fresh horse may give him the edge over De Rigueur.
That rival has some very good performances behind him this season, but makes a quick reappearance after finishing down the field in the ultra-competitive Ebor Handicap a week ago.
Sea Silk does not look too highly tried for her debut and she should go well for Mark Johnston in the Betdaq Irish Stallion Farms Maiden Stakes. By Shamardal out of Yorkshire Oaks and Ribblesdale Stakes runner up Ocean Silk, she has been working nicely and has one of the finest exponents of riding this tricky course, Franny Norton, doing the steering.
Le Roucquin rates a danger though as she’s come forward from her debut and worked nicely under today’s rider Tom Queally in Newmarket recently.
Enlace represents the Johnson/Norton axis in the valuable Betdaq Conditions Stakes and she can put a below par effort at Nottingham behind her. She was beaten a long way by Prize Exhibit at the Midlands course, but had previous had the same filly behind when just chinned in a valuable nursery at Newmarket and is still held in high regard.
The winner of that race, Zifena, has since finished a good third in a Group Three at Goodwood and this looks the more reliable form line.
The Solario Stakes does not appear to be quite up to last season's quality when Kingman took the honours, but it remains an interesting race with some highly talented but exposed sorts taking on Godolphin's Future Empire, the winner of his only race at Newmarket. The form of that particular heat is working out very nicely and hopes are high within the Saeed Bin Suroor camp that he can follow up.
The TBA Atalanta Stakes has attracted runners from France and Germany. They are impossible to gauge but John Gosden’s Water Hole has won both her starts this season. This is her stiffest test to date but she continues to give the right signals in her work at home with Belle D’Or.
Forgotten Hero has done well since being fitted with a hood and should go close in the St James Theatre Handicap. Charlie Hills' five-year-old carried plenty of stable confidence on his latest start and duly delivered with a comfortable win.
Although he has been raised 3lbs for the success, he looks more than capable of overcoming the extra burden, and he should handle the demanding ground well. His stable could not be in better form at present and the stiff mile and a quarter should suit him well.
Loraine is yet another with few miles on the clock this season and she can build on her eye-catching comeback fourth at Lingfield in the Arc Racing Syndicates Handicap at Bath.
Although she is set to carry 10st here, the race looks very ordinary and she gave the distinct impression on her comeback that she would appreciate the return to a mile and a quarter.
Thatchereen rates a decent bet at Brighton on Sunday in the EBF/Family Friendly Gatwick Airport Fillies’ Handicap. Michael Bell’s charge gets weight from all her rivals – even before Daniel Muscutt’s claim kicks in – and went very well in a midweek spin at HQ.
Harry Dunlop does very well with the horses at his disposal and there is optimism among the Windsor House team that they have a promising two-year-old with which to go to war during the back-end to the season
Storm Rock, a son of Rock Of Gibraltar out of the useful mare Seasonal Cross, has been working very nicely on the Lambourn Downs and just may have his first public airing in a seven furlong maiden at Leicester on Monday.
Sir Michael Stoute is another trainer with plenty of promising juveniles to unleash through the autumn. Don’t give up on Dissolution who was a beaten favourite at York last week but possesses plenty of ability. So do the unraced pair of Angel Vision and Darskini.
Godolphin caused more than a ripple or two with their decision to close Highfields Stables but they continue to press for some big autumn winners. Last year’s Ladbrokes St Leger hero Encke might just be one of them and he worked well on the July Course under William Buick on Saturday.