Catching Pigeons: Gossip and tips from the gallops

Racing
Harry Angel scorches to victory in the July Cup
Harry Angel scorches to victory in the July Cup

Our Catching Pigeons insider reckons Harry Angel will prove a class apart at Ascot, while there's a tip for France and Sunday and a Wolverhampton runner to note.

Best chances

3.50 Ascot

9
4
49-1OR: 122D
13/8
Last RunWatch last race

4.25 Ffos Las

3
810-11OR: 147CD
2/1
Last RunWatch last race

4.30 Ascot

10
3
59-3OR: 102D
3/1

Newmarket's famous Limekilns gallop closes for the winter next weekend, while the Al Bahathri is set for some serious renovation works, so understandably all the facilities have been extremely busy in the run-up to QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot.

Champions Stakes favourite Cracksman worked solo under Frankie Dettori in the semi-dark during the week and everyone concerned with the progressive Prix Niel winner seemed delighted with his prep.

There's little doubt within the John Gosden camp that he'll handle the drop back to a mile and a quarter, with Dettori expected to take up a prominent role in the Group One.

Cracksman
Cracksman: Fancied to win the Champion

Looking a little further ahead to next weekend and Gabr seems well on track for a crack at the Racing Post Trophy. Sir Michael Stoute's son of Intello has thrived since opening his account at the third time of asking at Yarmouth last month and cut an impressive figure working under Jim Crowley on the Limekilns.

Others to look out for are the Hugo Palmer-trained Corrosive, who has been ear-marked for the Horris Hill at Newbury, and Luca Cumani's three-year-old filly Pleasant Surprise, who heads back to France this weekend in a bid to break a frustrating run of narrow defeats.

Duretto is a fresh horse for his most important target of the campaign and he looks solid each-way value in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.

The back-end of the season seems to appeal to Andrew Balding's charge, who progressed well at this stage of the campaign 12 months ago, and judged on his win at Chester last month looks ready for this step up in trip.

Graham Lee managed to paint himself into a corner on the five-year-old over this extended mile and five furlongs on the Roodee, but he was able to extricate himself in plenty of time, before his mount quickened clear.

Although the form does not match that of some of his rivals, Duretto was having his first outing since May and he gives the impression he is still open to improvement.

All eyes will be on the ground for the big day, but conditions are sure to ride on the soft side, which means Balding has two live players in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Here Comes When and Beat The Bank. Preference is just for the latter, who has improved steadily throughout the second half of the season and followed wins at Listed and Group Three level with his most important win so far in the Group Two Joel Stakes last month.

His sharp burst of acceleration to take him clear in the closing stages suggests he will more than hold his own at this lofty level, and he looks sure to give Ribchester and co plenty to think about.

Harry Angel can see off the quietly fancied The Tin Man and win the Group One QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes.

Clive Cox has enjoyed a fantastic season and the undoubted headline act has been this son of Dark Angel. He has not stopped improving all year and is a great advertisement for his trainer's skills, as there were one of two issues in the first half of the season.

An aversion to the stalls was one, but it was his ability to sometimes go too quick for this own good early on, which saw him defeated at the Royal meeting here in June.

However, it has been plain sailing since and his wins in both the July Cup and the Haydock Sprint Cup have been almost as impressive as you could get from a six furlong sprinter.

Cox gave his stable star a break after his trip to Lancashire and his training has gone very well since. His work is still of a very high order and he should handle any ground the elements fire at him.

Money Back at Ascot
Money Back at Ascot

Lord Glitters ran a blinder for David O'Meara on his first appearance for the stable in a valuable event over seven furlongs on this course a couple of weeks ago, and he is fancied to go one better in the Balmoral Handicap.

On what was his first outing since winning at Chantilly in May, this former French-trained son of Whipper gave every indication in finishing second to bang-in-form Accidental Agent that he would relish this step up to a mile.

The handicapper has not been able to take that performance into account (4lb well in) for this early closing event and the ground should also be well within his comfort zone.

Michael Bell may have one eye on the skies over Ascot ahead of Big Orange's return to the scene of his most famous triumph, but ease underfoot shouldn't dent the claims of Ray's The Money in Catterick's toteexacta Handicap.

The draw makes life tougher than we would like but the move up to a mile and a half for the first time if expected to unlock a bit of improvement in the son of Dragon Pulse, who has looked a touch one-paced of late.

At Wolverhampton, there is one to keep and eye on - namely Joyful Dream, who might not be up to winning first time out for John Butler from an impossible-looking draw, but is a name to add to the My Stable tracker.

'King Of The Valleys' Evan Williams enjoyed a great day in his native land at Chepstow last weekend and he could follow up with another notable success with Clyne in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.

The ground is likely to ride on the soft side with storm Brian on the horizon, and Clyne is well adapted to cope with testing conditions.

Although beaten by The New One at Haydock last season, the selection put up a good performance and should again shake up Nigel Twiston-Davies' star, especially as he has seen another summer pass and is not getting any younger.

Clyne is expected to go well over hurdles

Charlie Longsdon is always a trainer to follow at this time of the season and he has bright chances at Stratford with the nicely-weighted Castafiore in the totescoop6 Mares Handicap Hurdle and Vive Le Roi in the totepoolliveinfo.com Handicap Hurdle.

Rippling Waters carries the well known colours of Tim Radford made famous by the likes of Somersby, and has shown enough in her preliminary work to suggest a bold show on her debut in the Golden Fleece Junior Bumper at Market Rasen.

Jaisalmer looks a youngster to note from the Gold Cup-winning Mark Bradstock academy and he can break his duck in the RPLC Novices Hurdle at Kempton on Sunday.

The Letcombe Bassett trainer loves to see his horses lead from the front and this unexposed five-year-old was still four lengths up when falling on this course in the spring. Whatever happens here, he looks one to note.

Harry Fry has a healthy team of youngsters primed for the new campaign and one of their number, Shall We Go Now, sidesteps a good opportunity at the Welsh course in favour of a bumper at Worcester on Wednesday.

A full brother to very useful performer Midnight Shot, he was ready to run in the spring but ground conditions were never quite right. He works very nicely and should be winning sooner rather than later.

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