Catching Pigeons: Moon to shine
Our Catching Pigeons column looks ahead to this weekend's racing and has some hints for next week's action too.
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Kingman is the sort of talking horse plenty of punters will be keen to take on at Newbury on Saturday, but those who have seen his recent work aren't expecting defeat.
Yes it's easy to argue that his price - along with that of Australia - looks ludicrously short in the ante-post betting for the 2000 Guineas. But if there is a time to take him on it could just be on quick ground on Newmarket's undulations, rather than in the Aon Greenham Stakes where conditions could be just about ideal.
With trainer John Gosden having already confirmed that his team are rocking and rolling at an early stage this season with hatfuls of winners at Nottingham in midweek and again at Newbury on Friday, reasons for taking Kingman on aren't easy to find. He zipped along happily on the Trial Ground on Tuesday.
Not that this won't be a stiff examination with an interesting balance of proven speed (Astaire), proven stamina (Berkshire) and untapped potential (the rest) in opposition.
Trying to narrow down the field for Berry Bros & Rudd Magnum Spring Cup isn't easy, with good messages for at least half a dozen of the runners.
Sweet Lightning ran a solid race in the Lincoln and has conditions in his favour with some give in the ground here, while there is also a good message for David Lanigan's Tinghir, although it wasn't exactly encouraging to see Biographer - the only other runner for the stable so far this year - trail home in midweek.
Ennobled is an interesting runner off bottom-weight, especially if stablemate Astonishing goes close earlier on the card. The pair worked together with Gospel Choir last weekend and the fact that Ryan Moore was on board Ennobled there suggests he might have been in the plate again here had the filly been a little higher up the weights.
But the vote just goes to Hugo Palmer's Dubawi Sound, who makes his debut for the yard.
His work has been very good, but then it always was for Roger Varian (and presumably for David Brown) too, only for the horse to fail to put it together on the track.
It will be a major feather in Palmer's cap if he can get the job done where his last two trainers failed, but hopes are high for him - especially if the ground continues to dry out.
The opening mile maiden, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes, has been won by a number of good horses over the years and there is likely to be a big message for William Haggas's Mutakeyyaf this time around.
His work has been of a high order and he is expected to build on his second to Pretzel on his only start as a juvenile. Brown Diamond, from the Charlie Hills stable, is also the subject of positive reports.
Newbury faces its fair share of woes at present, including the reluctance of its patrons to slalom through the new housing estates around its perimeter and actually go through the turnstiles.
However, they are right to be encouraged by the quality of their card as a whole, even if laterunning building work to the stables area means the number of runners on the day has had to be trimmed.
The Group Three Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise (John Porter) Stakes looks a very good trial for the upcoming all-aged middle-distance events and sees the reappearance of Pether's Moon, Richard Hannon's much-talked-about four year old.
There's a strong Newmarket challenge in the field but Pether's Moon was unlucky not to win a couple of times last season and really only showed his true potential right at the end of the campaign.
If he has improved again over the winter, and connections believe he has, then he can win this at the expense of the talented but mercurial Noble Mission and Mutashaded, who caught the eye last weekend in his work.
Finally, Eagle Top gets a shout in the Al Basti Equiworld Maiden Stakes having taken the eye among John Gosden's three-year-old team more than once in recent weeks.
My Tent Or Yours is the class act on show at Ayr's big meeting and confidence is high at Seven Barrows behind his chances in the Scottish Champion Hurdle despite having to concede weight all round.
However, there is also plenty of interest with an eye on next season in his appearance, given Nicky Henderson's decision to run him in a hood.
It's seemed to do the job of relaxing him well at home - but will it work as effectively in a racecourse environment? The trainer will also try a different bridle arrangement which could include both the use of a new bit and dispensing with the horse's usual cross noseband in favour of a more conventional model.
Alan King enjoyed a great time with his novice chasers at Aintree and Cheltenham and should continue in the same vein with Valdez in the Arcadie Consulting Future Champion Chase and Manyriverstocross in the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase.
Valdez should appreciate the step up to two and a half miles on this relatively easy course, whilst Manyriverstocross should have the speed to make a winning return to the minimum trip after his game success at Ascot last time. He appeared to have a hard race that day, but has come out of the contest fresh and bouncing at home.
Tidal Bay's quick reappearance in the Coral Scottish Grand National sees more than half of the field out of the handicap proper, and improves the chance of his stablemate Sam Winner. But preference is just for Mendip Express, trained just up the road by Harry Fry, and who has pleased his trainer since being given a break after his Newbury flop.
Nicky Henderson's French import Saint Charles can make the most of the weight he receives from some good class previous winners on his British debut in the Jordan Electrics Ltd Bumper.
The Seven Barrows trainer has a good record in this race - Sprinter Sacre is a past winner - and this son of Manduro has shown plenty in his preliminary homework.
Up at Thirsk, Retirement Plan must be included in multiple bets when he lines up in the New Thomas Lord Dine & View Restaurant Handicap.
A handsome, strapping sort, he was one of a party sent to Great Leighs by Jane Cecil for a recent workout and he should be ready enough for this.
Looking forward to next week, the slow-learning Shanti finally looks to have got the hang of things and can show that he has inherited some his illustrious family's ability (and hopefully not too much of their temperament) at Windsor on Monday.
Also worth looking out for on that card is Red Runaway in the mile-and-a-half handicap later in the day. He has been keeping 1000 Guineas hope Amazing Maria - entered in both the Free Handicap and the Nell Gwyn next week - company in her most recent work and looks to be going well.
Ed Dunlop hopes Ryan Moore will ride.
Reroute is likely to find things tough this season, as most three-year-old sprinting fillies do, but she worked well enough for Ed Walker on the Trial Ground on Tuesday to give Ed Walker hope that she can win more races.