Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Doncaster and Kempton Park on Saturday. View selections below.
It has been another long old winter for devoted turfistes but the Betway Lincoln Handicap heralds the new Flat season, with YUFTEN (3.35), Third Time Lucky and Zhui Feng topping my shortlist at Doncaster.
Yuften, once a very useful Group horse, has had only three runs for Roger Charlton, following successful spells with Johnny Murtagh and William Haggas.
His new trainer scooped a huge pot when Yuften landed the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day at Ascot last October, relishing the mile trip on good ground.
He was gelded over the winter and made a most encouraging reappearance at Wolverhampton three weeks ago, running on strongly into third behind enterprisingly-ridden winner Salateen and hot favourite Keystroke over seven furlongs.
Yuften is a skinny enough price (4-1 generally) but may well drift on-course.
Third Time Lucky finished a close fifth to Yuften at Ascot, racing on the opposite side of the track in receipt of 5lb. Richard Fahey has kept the grey busy on the all-weather and super-fit Third Time Lucky, the 2015 Cambridgeshire winner, will appreciate the return to turf.
Connor Murtagh reduces his weight by 7lb which is helpful, but I’m not sure an exposed berth in stall one is anything to get excited about. Fahey saddles five in total with Paul Hanagan riding Dolphin Vista. The trainer reports that Dolphin Vista was gelded over the winter and is working ‘extremely well’. A spot of rain wouldn’t go amiss for the Dolphin, while decent ground suits Fahey’s Another Touch, just back from Dubai where he didn’t get to race.
Amanda Perrett’s Zhui Feng returned from a 133-day absence to run fourth to Convey in the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield at the end of February and is due to go up 5lb, so is well enough treated. He ran well in last year’s Cambridgeshire and the straight mile should suit.
GOD WILLING (2.25) could go well at a huge price in the Betway Spring Mile if able to build on his comeback fifth to Jaywalker at Newcastle just over three weeks ago.
Six furlongs was too sharp for him, but he stuck on into fifth spot leaving the impression the run would not have gone amiss. God Willing scored over the straight mile at Newmarket, beating previous winner Storm Ahead on good ground, and that form is probably good enough to get him into the mix.
Nimr has been in sparkling form at Wolverhampton this winter, notching three victories for Richard Fahey and owners Al Shaqab Racing. With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, Nimr is sure to prove popular as he also boasts course form, running Murad Khan close last May off an 11lb lower mark.
Fahey also runs Another Touch, the mount of Paul Hanagan, and Gabrial’s Kaka, with Adam McNamara claiming 3lb. Gabrial’s Kaka usually comes to hand early and finished third in the Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh on his debut last season.
Sacred Act could well prove a cut above having had the kid glove treatment from John Gosden, while it is surely noteworthy that Sir Michael Stoute strips Kempton maiden winner Ballet Concerto for action on the opening day of the season.
STORMY ATLANTIC (3.00) was sent off second favourite for last season’s Qipco 2000 Guineas on the back of his win in the Craven Stakes, but he made no show.
Ed Walker’s colt later ran a cracker when chasing home Zelzal at Chantilly and wasn’t disgraced in finishing seventh to Ribchester at Deauville in August. Put away for Champions’ Day at Ascot, Stormy Atlantic couldn’t lay a glove on Minding and Ribchester in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes but he returns to action with an obvious chance in the lower-grade Betway Doncaster Mile.
Toscanini has left Mick Halford and has his first start for Richard Fahey. A very useful sprinter on his day, there have to be serious stamina reservations, although his third to Gordon Lord Byron and Sovereign Debt over seven furlongs at the Curragh last summer offers a ray of hope.
John Gosden’s Crazy Horse hasn’t raced in the UK for some time but enters calculations along with Custom Cut, third of four in this event last year when conceding 7lb to his rivals. Level weights this time give him a sporting chance.
The concluding apprentices’ handicap over 1m 2f isn’t for the faint-hearted but Paul Nicholls saddles a rare runner in VOLPONE JELOIS (5.50).
The winner of a Taunton maiden before Christmas, Volpone Jelois has since finished third to smart sorts The Unit and Qualando back at the West Country track. He chased home Rainbow Dreamer on his hurdling debut at Fontwell in early December and Alan King’s winner was an 84-rated handicapper on the flat.
Volpone Jelois could be well in off his 70 rating, with Megan Nicholls taking off 3lb from a potentially good draw in stall two.
There is some competitive action at Kempton where PRINCE OF ARRAN (3.15) should make a good fist of defying top weight in the Betfred Rosebery Handicap.
Prince Of Arran had 2015 victor Noble Gift behind when scoring here in November but has since paid the penalty for a terrific run in a Listed contest won by Crimean Tatar, with his handicap rating rocketing to 102.
It will take a career-best effort to win but he runs the track so well that it isn’t an impossible task.
Dangers abound, with Gawdawpalin, a good second at Lingfield last week on his first outing since November, feared most.
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