Hamish lands the Sky Bet Melrose
Fresh in action at Ascot

Catching Pigeons gossip and tips ahead of weekend's racing action


Our gallops insider is back with the tips from some of the leading training centres, including Hamish in the Sky Bet Ebor at York.


HAMISH - 3.35 York

William Haggas almost loves nothing more than success at York, and he can enjoy what will undoubtedly be one of the most satisfying highlights of his career with Hamish in the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap on the Knavesmire on Saturday. The fact that this highly talented five-year-old has been very lightly raced over the past season or two suggests that winning this valuable event will be a tough ask, but connections have been really happy with his preparation, and this race has been top of his hitlist for some time. His preparatory work has gone well and his past form suggests he has the class to more than make his presence felt. The threat of heavy rain hangs over the final day of the meeting, but any softening of the surface should not hinder the selection and it might also help the chances of lightly-weighted Quickthorn. The winner of the Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot, he will be well at home if conditions, as some forecasters predict, worsen during the day and may well reward an each-way interest if the ground eases.

Paddy Power's latest offer

SURREY GOLD - 2.25 York

Surrey Gold, a stablemate of Quickthorn, is another best when he can get his toe into the ground, and he could well make his presence felt in the Sky Bet Melrose Handicap. Impressive when breaking his duck for the season at Newbury in the spring, he was just found out for fitness at Ascot last month after a rushed preparation. However, he still ran remarkably well to finish only three lengths adrift of the winner, First Light, and has a handy pull with the half length runner-up Dhushan.

PRIMO BACIO - 3.00 York

Primo Bacio beat the very much in-form Creative Flair when winning here at the May meeting and she looks worth an interest in the Group 2 Sky Bet City Of York Stakes. Ed Walker's three-year-old has tackled some hard tasks since that success and has performed well, despite the rub of the green going against her on the odd occasion. She did well to finish just two lengths behind the 1000 Guineas winner Mother Earth after finding trouble in running in the closing stages of a Group 1 at Deauville earlier this month, and a repeat of that performance here will see her involved at the finish.

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MIGRATION - 4.45 York

Migration can continue his climb in the ratings with victory over the unexposed Wahraan in the Sky Bet Handicap. This represents another step up in class for David Menuisier's five-year-old, but he was good value for his two length win at the Sussex course and he can progress sufficiently from that performance to overcome the 8lb rise in his handicap mark.

KING OF CLUBS - 3.15 Sandown

King Of Clubs, another solid chance for Hughie Morrison on a busy day, can double his career total in the Heed Your Hunch at Betway Handicap at Sandown. A runaway winner of a maiden at Nottingham in May, he has faced a tough task on his two subsequent starts, and lost nothing in defeat in finishing second to subsequent York winner Dejame Paso (rec 5lbs) before chasing home two recent pattern race winners Dubai Honour (Group 2 at Deauville) and Foxes Tales (Group 3 at Haydock) in a heritage handicap at Newmarket early last month. He looks very nicely weighted here off a mark of 86 and should give likely favourite Poet Of Life plenty to think about.

STAR FROM AFARRH - 2.05 Sandown

Oisin Murphy gives the Knavesmire a swerve in favour of some promising rides at the Esher course and Star From Afarrh merits serious consideration in the Group 3 Betway Solario Stakes. Andrew Balding won this race in 2016 with South Seas and went close with his 2000 Guineas winner Kameko two years ago, and it is interesting he has chosen to take on the colts with this unbeaten filly. The Kingsclere trainer has a very smart crop of juveniles this season, and this daughter of Farhh is expected to improve significantly from her debut win over the highly rated Kawida, who went on to boost the form at Haydock on her latest start.

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STROZZI - 1.30 Sandown

Strozzi should also go close for the Balding-Murphy combo in the Betway Nursery. He looked well in need of a step up in trip after his first two outings over five and then six furlongs, and made it third time lucky over seven at Chepstow. Although beaten at Newmarket on his latest start, he looked more than a shade unlucky, and the form of the race looks solid enough.

BANANA - 2.45 Chester

It may pay to take a chance with Martyn Meade's Banana in the Grolsch Premier Pilsner Fillies Stakes at Chester. The in-form Manton trainer has given this daughter a break after two solid performances against noteworthy opposition in the Spring, and she may be able to surprise the fancied Kevin Ryan-trainer runner Sadmah, especially if there is, as seems likely, some further easing of the ground.

ERNIE's VALENTINE - 7.00 Chelmsford

Ernie's Valentine did well to win at Kempton last time after a very tardy start, and he is well fancied to follow up in the Goodwin Malatesta Legal Costs Nursery at Chelmsford. A winner of a hotly contested event at Leicester on his debut, he had something to prove at the Sunbury course after two defeats in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and a similar event to this on the same course last month. But his smart turn of foot was well in evidence as he came from well off the pace in the straight to beat Claim The Stars by a neck. This is much more competitive heat, but he is reported in good form and another improved effort is anticipated.


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