Catching Pigeons: Royal Ascot gossip and tips

Our Catching Pigeons column returns with tips and gossip ahead of Thursday at Royal Ascot.

The current dry and warm spell in the south may be largely good news for racecourse officials and racegoers alike, but rising temperatures may not be ideal for Mirage Dancer.

Having blown the start and been given time to settle into his stride, Sir Michael Stoute's colt ran an encouraging fourth in the Dee Stakes, won by Cliffs Of Moher, on his reappearance and second career start and is strongly fancied by some within the Freemason Lodge team for the Hampton Court Stakes.

Andrea Atzeni partnered him in work last week and was highly impressed, but there is a concern that Mirage Dancer's temperament might get the better of him and he can sweat up so it will be worth waiting to see how he copes with the atmosphere and how he is down at the start before parting with your cash.

It could be a big day for these connections with another Abdullah-owned and Stoute-trained product from the Frankel line, Mori, well fancied to continue on her upward surge in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes

Sir Michael Stoute had high hopes for this filly at the start of the campaign, and she is already a long way down the road in justifying those aspirations. Having broken her duck on her second start at Ascot, she ran out an emphatic winner of an Oaks Trial at Goodwood, and the form received a boost when the fourth, Elas Ruby, won a Listed event in great style at Newbury last week. Mori has continued to please in her subsequent homework and this step up to a mile and a half should hold no terrors.

Quest For More, a star stayer for many a long year, has proved he can cut the mustard in Group One company and looks too big a price in the feature Ascot Gold Cup on ground conditions that he will surely relish.

The  Roger Charlton team have reported their eight-year-old back in great form after dismal performances at both Meydan in the spring and at Sandown last month. He has been given a short break and has been freshened up. 

If he is back to anything like the form which saw win the Yorkshire Cup or defeat the very smart Vazirabad in the Prix Du Cadran at Chantilly in October, he looks a spanking bet to reach a place with the fast ground riding in his favour.

Atty Persse, the winner of the Esher Cup at Sandown before finishing a good second to Haydock last month, should also go close for Charlton in the King George V Handicap

Although he had the speed to win after traffic problems at the Esher course, connections are convinced he needs this step up to a mile and a half, and if they are right, he looks nicely weighted to see off recent big handicap winners Droichaid

Roger Varian's Defoe, taken out at the final declaration stage, waits for softer ground. He will definitely win again and is a name to follow.

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