Catching Pigeons: A ‘Nissa bet
Our Catching Pigeons column has the inside track from the training centres and fancies Mehronissa to floor Shalaa at Ascot.
Mehronissa (second left, white cap): Should go well at a price in the Bengough Stakes.
A big weekend for Michael Dods and Paul Mulrennan can begin with victory in one of the valuable sales races that now pepper the British Flat racing programme.
The Denton Hall trainer will have his main focus on France this weekend where he runs Mecca's Angel in the Abbaye at Chantilly on Sunday, but there could be a lucrative warm-up with Bamber Bridge in the £150,000 Tattersalls October September Stakes at Newmarket 24 hours earlier.
A winner on his debut at Hamilton in August, he did well to finish fourth to Mubtasim from what looked a disadvantageous draw in a valuable sales race at the Doncaster St Leger meeting and he is reported to have come out of that contest in cracking order.
At a decent price, Winkle Brown could go well for Ralph Beckett and Fran Berry in the NKT Financial Solutions Maiden Stakes. Beckett won this race 12 months ago with the highly-rated but troublesome Carntop, and this stoutly-bred son of Sixties Icon has shown enough in his preliminary work to suggest he has the combination of speed and stamina to see out this demanding mile, even if he can only improve for this experience.
However, preference is for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Pivoline, a strong colt from a Ballymacoll Stud family who has been impressing in his homework for the last few weeks. He may prove sharp enough to take this at the first time of asking, despite the stable's horses always coming on for their first runs.
Beckett has at least two other solid chances on the card with the progressive Crowning Glory in the British Stallions Supporting EBF Breeders' Fillies' Series Mile, and should also be on the premises with the less-exposed Sightline in the British Stallions EBF Breeders' Fillies' Series Middle Distance Handicap. She showed some solid form in the first half of the season, but flopped at York on her latest start 10 weeks ago and was promptly given a break.
Now fresh and ready to go again, she remains at the right end of the handicap and looks open to further improvement – Jon Fahy takes the reins with Fran Berry unable to do the weight.
South African mare Smart Call returns from a lengthy absence against some of the best fillies around in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes and is not unsurprisingly a double-figure price, not least because of the fitness doubt that hangs over her – the Breeders' Cup is the ultimate aim.
But having been boarding at Abingdon Place in Newmarket for about a month now, Smart Call has impressed in her exercises and might just be worth a small bet to prove better than the assembly of French, Irish and British talent against her.
Remarkable looks the sort to go well after a break and he looks worth an interest in the big handicap of the day, the valuable totescoop6 Challenge Cup at Ascot.
John Gosden's gelding made a great start to the season with wins at Southwell and Doncaster and followed those performances with a creditable efforts in Listed and Group Three company at Newbury and Royal Ascot respectively. He has not raced since his fifth to Ribchester in the Jersey Stakes, but is reported in good form and this first venture into a competitive handicap, with its likely fast pace, should play to his strengths.
His trainer does not run horses in these kind of handicaps unless he hopes to win them.
Gosden's Western Hymn has been banging his head against the wall this season and holds obvious chances in the Gigaset Cumberland Lodge Stakes, but he clearly isn't find winning races any easier as he gets older and preference is for the Sir Michael Stoute pair, with Kings Fete getting the vote. He may just have a yard too much pace for Arab Spring and this race looks a nice stepping stone to better things – even at five, he has very few miles on the clock and can keep rewarding the patience shown by his owner.
Another big Gosden runner is Shalaa in the John Guest Bengough Stakes but he has not been over-cooked with Champions Day in a fortnight's time in mind and is one we will be looking to take on if his price holds up.
Instead, Ed Vaughan's Mehronissa looks insultingly overpriced on the back of a proper run in the Sprint Cup at Haydock and there's no way to tell if she has finished improving yet. She isn't the biggest and therefore never really takes the eye, but the word from the stable is encouraging and it would delight her popular trainer if she can get her head in front here.
Redcar enjoys its annual big day with the totepool Two Year Old Trophy as its highlight and this annual cavalry charge plays host to another big field of juveniles.
It is usually won by a class act however, with Limato and Quiet Reflection at the top of the roll of honour, and the latter's trainer Karl Burke could strike with Medici Banchiere this year.
He has shown enough in pattern company at the Newmarket July meeting and the Ebor Festival at York to suggest he can see off the marginally higher-rated Repton and Rainbow Mist.
Wuheida can give Godolphin operation a timely boost with a Group One success in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly on Sunday.
The Royal Blues have been on the defensive after one or two negative headlines recently but are confident of a big run from this Charlie Appleby-trained filly on her step up from maiden company to the very highest level.
The form of her emphatic debut success at Newmarket in August has worked out very well – both the second and fourth have landed impressive wins since – and her recent form on the gallops confirms she is a well above average juvenile.
This tends to be the time of the year for the main Godolphin stables for some reason and you can expect a raft of Saeed bin Suroor and Appleby winners in the weeks ahead. Some names to look out for spotted working well this week include Thunder Snow and Easy Victory.
Will Postponed win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe? Quite probably. He did his final serious piece of work on the Long Gallop in midweek and simply remains the ultimate professional – he does what you want him to, when you want him to. The only niggling doubt concerns his ability to handle what is quite a tight track, but versatility has proved his hallmark for the last 12 months and more.
One thing we can be sure about is that So Mi Dar will give a good account of herself for John Gosden in the Prix de l'Opera. She is on fantastic terms with herself at present and could hardly be pulled up at the end of her latest piece of work.