Catching Pigeons: Rising Dawn
Our Catching Pigeons column offers up a handful of fancies to consider at Royal Ascot on Ladies' Day.
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Hughie Morrison ought to be in his element among his fellow landed gentry at Royal Ascot, but the trainer usually manages a winner or a near-miss at least at the meeting every year.
With Another Cocktail second in the Ascot Stakes, his only runner before today, you could argue that the stable had its big moment for the week, but Morrison has another real ace up his sleeve for Ladies' Day at the track.
The fast-impoving Arab Dawn has already run up a hat-trick of wins on his three starts this season, but despite an understandable rise in the weights, it's expected that there is still more to come in the King George V Stakes.
Having Richard Hughes on board has helped ensure that neither of his latest two victories were achieved by the sort of margins that would allow the handicapper to get too carried away, but although Hughes has to get off here in order to ride the Hannon runner Windshear, the very able deputy of Jimmy Fortune is booked instead.
On the subject of jockeys, it will be intriguing as to how Jamie Spencer rides Inchila in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes after she came from the back to finish an unlucky fourth in the Oaks.
She was supposed to have been ridden up with the pace, but missed the break and took a long time waiting for a clear run in the straight. If things fall right this time, she must have a great chance and her trainer is hopeful that she can deal with the slightly-quicker-than-ideal return to action.
Spencer hasn't had the best week thus far with some punters feeling that he has given more than a couple of his mounts enough to do in their respective races. Can he silence the knockers now?
Spark Plug lacks plenty of experience and would be receiving plenty of weight from some of the leaders in the market of the Tercentenary Stakes. However, do not write Brian Meehan's charge off as a social runner.
The bare form of his two wins leave him with plenty to find, but he did well to beat some very handy performers at Doncaster after a long spell on the sidelines, and he has come on a lot for the outing.
His work has always been of a high order, and his stable have run into form after a slow first half of the season at just the right time.
Provided that the overnight watering is conducted with some measure, the highly-rated Obliterator rates the danger.
Estimate has endured an up-and-down road to defending her Gold Cup crown this year, but each time that connections have been bracing themselves to have to pull the plug, the mare has produced something to bring her right back into the picture.
A tweaked suspensory meant she missed an intended prep in Ascot's Sagaro Stakes, but a good workout under Ryan Moore at Headquarters on Saturday morning, where she held off stablemate Hillstar, saw her confirm her place in the line-up.
This is arguably a tougher renewal than last year's race, but that last gallop was certainly encouraging and she is a backable price for one who has been there and done it before.
Hors De Combat was under consideration for the 2000 Guineas at one stage early in the spring but didn't come to hand in time and was instead given a more patient time of things at home.
However, he impressed on ground similar to that which he will encounter today when scoring at Newmarket last time and rates a sporting each-way suggestion in the Britannia Handicap.