Catching Pigeons: Star trek

Our Catching Pigeons column fancies Dashing Star to make the journey from Newmarket pay off in the November Handicap.

David Elsworth, trainer of Nobvember Handicap fancy Dashing Star.

David Elsworth is responsible for one of a number of potential Newmarket-trained winners as Flat racing on turf comes to an end for 2016 at Doncaster on Saturday.

Elsworth's hardy six-year-old Dashing Star has run some some very good races in this kind of competitive high-class handicap and has an interesting advantage over many of his rivals here of having seen action just once this term – an eye-catching fourth to Tawdeaa at Leicester last month.

A 2lb drop in his handicap has resulted from what was a fine effort after a very long lay-off, and if he can bounce back from that performance in positive vein, he is entitled to go very close in the Betfred November Handicap off what looks a very workable mark.

Entsar has a mountain to climb on ratings in the wide-open Betfred Gillies Fillies' Stakes, but this is the time of year when a filly can suddenly find wings and it's fascinating to see William Haggas pitch her in this contest.

A well-bred daughter of Fastnet Rock, she beat a big field with some ease in an ordinary handicap at Newbury, and has suddenly hit top gear having looked pretty unextraordinary earlier in the season.

Wurood should also be a big player for the stable in the second division of the Betfred Cock O'The North EBF Maiden Stakes.

He was interestingly nibbled at the betting first time up at Yarmouth, despite Haggas also being responsible for the successful favourite, but gave the race away from the start, dawdling from stall one and getting left behind in the first few yards only to quickly make up the necessary ground in order to throw down a challenge from the two-furlong pole.

He has an engine, will improve for that run, and should take some beating.

Clive Cox could have the answer to the first division of the maiden with Harvest Wind, who showed up pleasingly when seventh on his debut at Nottingham.

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Having lost ground at the start before taking some time to realise just what was required in the galloping department, he ran on nicely in the closing stages. Underfoot conditions look likely to suit him a little better here, and he seems to have improved nicely for the experience.

Silviniaco Conti gets the vote to land his first win over three miles in more than 18 months in the Grade Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Paul Nicholls loves to target this meeting and has his star staying chaser back in great form after a low-key campaign last term – this race has been on his agenda for some time and he should certainly be ready.

The horse's impressive win in a Grade One over two and a half miles at Ascot in February was the undoubted highlight of last season's campaign and suggests he should still possess the speed required for this relatively sharp three miles. Confidence has been increased among connections by some pleasing workouts which included a recent spin under regular partner Noel Fehily.

Fehily also teams up with London Prize in the Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle and a big run is expected. Ian Williams has his team in cracking form at present and this former bumper winner is seeking his third win in a row after two recent wins on the Flat, including an easy success at Nottingham on his latest start.

The fields are depressingly small at some of the big jumps meetings this weekend, but Shantou Village is fancied to beat three very useful rivals and in turn extend his winning sequence to three in the Grade Two Wincanton Rising Stars Novices' Chase.

An easy winner on his fencing debut at Fontwell, he was thought to be just in need of the race after a seven-week break on his return at Cheltenham two weeks ago, but was still good enough to see off some good opposition. He should be sharper here and looks ready for this for demanding test.

Neil Mullholland, trainer of Shantou Village, sets a poser with three runners in the Badger Ales Chase, but it may pay to take a chance with the lightly-weighted Fingerontheswitch.

A fall when in midfield at Cheltenham is not the most ideal preparation for this valuable event, but Fingerontheswitch is a sound enough jumper and looks very well handicapped given that his rating over hurdles is 14lb higher than his mark over the larger obstacles. At only six, he is the youngest horse in the field, and connections believe he has plenty of scope for improvement.

Clemency should go well off her light weight in the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on Sunday. Nicky Henderson won this prize 12 months ago with Clondaw Banker and hopes are high this five-year-old will be much sharper after an eyecatching fourth at Market Rasen 22 days ago. The form of that race is very strong.

Henderson should also go close with Might Bite and Christmas In April at Ffos Las.

Might Bite has schooled well and should make a winning return to fences in the Rob Davies Chemists Novices Chase. Henderson had to abandon the gelding's chase campaign after an abysmal debut effort 12 months ago, but he has him back on the straight and narrow now, and his jumping has been very solid in his pre-season build up.

Christmas in April can maintain his 100 per-cent record in the Rob Davies Chemists Novices Hurdle. The winner of a low key bumper in the Spring, he was on the weak side last season, but is much stronger now, and looks ready fro this demanding two and a half miles.His work has been of a high order, and connections believe he will pay to follow during his rookie campaign over the smaller obstacles.

However you choose to treat the Breeders' Cup, don't miss out on a bet on Mehronissa in the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes, a Group Three event over six and a half furlongs that precedes the main Breeders' Cup action on Saturday's card.

Trainer Ed Vaughan was hoping to squeeze his filly into the Turf Sprint, but she missed out by one. This contest could offer a decent consolation though, not to mention a poignant opportunity to remember Freddy Tylicki as he remains in hospital after his shocking fall at Kempton at the start of the week.

Tylicki did the prep with Mehronissa, an excellent piece of work last Friday putting her spot-on for this, and would have flown out to California for this ride, but for fate to intervene. Our thoughts and those of the connections of this horse will be with him.

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