Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Doncaster, Kempton and Newbury on Saturday. View selections below.
David O’Meara has two live chances of landing the Betway Lincoln Handicap with warm favourite Lord Of The Land and 20-1 ‘second-string’ BIRDMAN (2.45)
The ground will ride on the easy side at Doncaster and Birdman is adaptable in that department. He came to hand early last year, rattling off a hat-trick in April/May and also scored at Haydock and York in a busy but productive season. Josh Doyle removes a handy 5lb from his back and Birdman boasts winning course form from last spring.
Birdman soared up the ratings as a result but his young trainer will have him tuned up along with Lord Of The Land, his ex-French recruit. Punters have smashed into the former Andre Fabre-trained inmate, probably in the belief that he can go one better than O’Meara’s 2015 Lincoln runner-up Mondialiste, another shrewd purchase from across the English Channel.
Mutarakez is my other fancy. He hasn’t been seen since running below expectations in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot when unsuited by the slick track. He has since been gelded and Brian Meehan’s four-year-old looked far more at home on softer terrain when landing the Silver Bowl at Haydock and Sandown’s Esher Cup.
The consolation Betway Spring Mile may give punters a clue to the effect of the draw and Ryan Moore looks a good booking for AZRAFF (2.15).
Marco Botti’s four-year-old often knocks at the door without winning but his proven stamina under testing conditions will stand him in good stead, especially with confirmed trailblazer Solo Hunter in the line-up. A gelding operation may well help his concentration and Azraff finished just behind Birdman in fourth over course and distance in September.
William Haggas saddles probable favourite Predominance, a lightly raced four-year-old open to plenty of improvement this season.
Doncaster was a happy hunting ground for Barry Hills in his pomp and son Charlie has wasted no time in taking up his mantle. Looking ahead to this 1m 2f maiden in an interview earlier in the week, Hills was complimentary about unraced MAHFOOZ (5.05), saying he was ‘a fine big colt with a lovely long stride. He is pretty forward and I would hope he’ll run a big race at Doncaster.’
Betfred sponsor an interesting Kempton card and if all eight declared runners go to post for the Queen’s Prize the each-way recommendation is HAMELIN (5.20). This two-mile trip is something of an unknown but Hamelin has solid course form over 12 furlongs, finishing second to solid handicappers Fire Fighting and Missed Call on two visits to the track last November.
Hamelin joined George Scott from the retired Lady Cecil and his latest handler reaches for a first-time visor.
Newbury’s jump fixture is something of a minefield but the card at Kelso looks a little more punter friendly. There is a nice each-way shape to the 2m 1f handicap chase and TRUST THOMAS (2.50) should appreciate the drying ground.
He has been plying his trade on very deep surfaces all winter and did well to score in the mud at Ayr under regular jockey Jamie Hamilton. Trust Thomas posted two excellent efforts in defeat on good ground at Newcastle and Wetherby last year when chasing home Montoya’s Son and Aye Well respectively.
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