Catching Pigeons: Selections for Saturday April 22 2017

Last Updated April 22 2017, 15:45

Could 2017 be the year for Sheikh Mohammed's Boys In Blue to return to racing's summit? Check out this week's column.

William Haggas was among the trainers to receive an invitation to The Queen's special birthday lunch in the Royal Box at Newbury on Friday and the trainer is highly hopeful he can repay her hospitality with at least one winner at the same track on Saturday.

He has debutants in the royal silks, both booked to be ridden by Ryan Moore (a sure statement of intent in itself), in the two divisions of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes, but it is the second of the pair, Musical Terms, who carries the most confidence.

It is a good card at the track, featuring the usual Guineas trial, and Dream Castle can continue Godolphin's great start to the season with victory in the JLT Greenham Stakes. The Royal Blues wasted no time getting this exceptionally well-bred son of Frankel into action on the domestic turf season, sending him to Doncaster for a seven-furlong maiden.

He made short work of the opposition and hopes are high he can do even better than his stablemate Benbatl, who ran a sound race in third in the the Craven two days ago, and book his place in a Guineas line-up with victory here.

Dream Castle will face plenty of opposition from Sir Michael Stoute's Zainhom, but he end up having most to fear from another Godolphin representative, Barney Roy. He was sold to Sheikh Mohammed after his impressive debut win at Haydock last season, and he has worked very well for Richard Hannon this spring.

Queen Kindly might just offer a shade of value to see off Dabyah and win the Dubai Duty Free Fred Darling Stakes.

One of the very best juvenile fillies last season, she was strongly fancied to follow up her Lowther Stakes win in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September. However, despite running a respectable race, she produced a below par effort and was found to be under the weather afterwards.

She has looked more like her old self this spring and can go well at the prices, despite the presence of likely favourite Dabyah, from the bang-in-form John Gosden team - the victory of a stablemate in the Nell Gwyn earlier this week boosted the confidence of connections in her chance.

Midterm has done plenty of work ahead of his return to action in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise John Porter Stakes that opens the card, but there are niggling doubts about his application to the task, despite his obvious class.

Hugo Palmer's completely-unexposed Crimean Tatar has been noted putting in some good recent work on the Trial Ground in HQ and is nominated as a plausible alternative play.

Remarkably, Luca Cumani is still looking for a first winner of the season on turf despite having his team relatively forward for the time of the year and notching a number of recent seconds and thirds.

Cumani's Banksea is a sporting selection in the lottery of the Be Wiser Insurance Spring Cup, given that he might just be the type best caught fresh, while his Wannabe Fresh - potentially very appealingly treated - is also well worth a look in the 1st Security Handicap at Nottingham, with Jamie Spencer making the journey north for a couple of rides for Cumani after his mount on Banksea.

A big run from the Stoute-trained Karawaan in the 11-furlong maiden at Newbury, would be a good pointer to the prospects of stablemate Crystal Ocean an hour later in the Hucknall Sheet Metal Maiden Stakes. The pair worked together recently and both made a pleasing impression upon their trainer.

Roger Charlton has made a bright start to the spring exchanges and he should go close with newcomer Petitioner in the FCL Global Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton. A son of Dansili out of a half-sister to Bosra Sham and Hector Protector, he has been moving well in his preparatory gallops and is not highly tried for his first public appearance.

Peace And Co finally returns to the racecourse after a number of false starts and is worth an interest in the Scottish Champion Limited Handicap Hurdle up at Ayr.

Nicky Henderson's gelding has given his trainer and owners little but headaches since his narrow win over his high class stablemate Top Notch in the 2015 Triumph Hurdle, but there are few better trainers at getting star performers back to their best after a spell in the wilderness - just ask Sprinter Sacre.

Peace And Co will not reach his lofty status, but his work in the last couple of months has been of a high quality, and if Jerry McGrath can get him settled and into a rhythm, he could prove excellent each-way value in a cracking race.

Henderson has not had too many extreme stayers since the likes of Classified, Zongalero and The Tsarevich flew the banner high at Aintree early in his training career, but he has a promising youngster with stamina aplenty in Premier Bond and he should go well in the Coral Scottish National.

A winner of novice events at Catterick and Doncaster, he ran a cracker on his debut in handicap company to finish third in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival. He has come back well from that competitive event, and he has been pleasing in his work.

Pym can round off a good day for the champion trainer elect in the Skyform Group Bumper. Seven Barrows has a distinguished record in this race and has won it with some top-class performers in the past, including, once again, Sprinter Sacre.

A son of Stowaway, Pym is a very good-looking individual and was bought at the Goffs Land Rover Sale last year. He is showing up well at home, and looks another promising addition to Altior's owner Patricia Pugh's small but select team.

As already alluded to, Godolphin have made a strong start to our domestic season, but the word from the pigeons across the Channel is that they also have some high-quality weaponry with which to go to war with in France this year.

Two of the principals are Graphite and Franz Schubert, first and third in a trial at Chantilly, a couple of weeks ago, and current thinking suggests the latter may be the best prospect. He was certainly finishing to good effect behind his stablemate in the nine furlong heat. Other less-exposed names to look out for are New Trails, Inns Of Court and Parabellum. All are trained by Andre Fabre and expect them to try their luck at pattern level before too long.

Could 2017 finally be the year that sees the boys in blue back at the very top? The early signs are certainly positive.

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