So the flat is back! The turf season kicks off at Doncaster and two races are previewed in the search for value. Plus there’s an interesing Handicap Chase from Kelso thrown in too.
The Lincoln is the traditional curtain raiser for the flat season on Town Moor. The change of race time has irked many due to the fact Channel 4 want to show F1 from Bahrain.
Doncaster isn’t usually a track where there is a draw bias however having looked back at the results since 2010 alongside the stalls for the top five finishers and the ground it threw some interesting results. Renewals ran on soft ground (three of the six) saw winning horses drawn in stalls 3, 3 and 1. With the ground currently being described as that, this is a line I’m looking to follow, so horses drawn in the low stalls (far side) could have a potential advantage.
Another issue is looking for horses that will be fit. Some have already ran on the all-weather against horses that are making their seasonal return and checking their record when running fresh, so I’m going to list a few players that should give you a run for your money.
Lord Of The Land is the favourite and there have been plenty of positive words for this son of Sharmardal. Purchased for €111,000 from Andre Fabre in October David O’Meara has had plenty of time to work with his new recruit. This five-year-old has a similar profile to Mondialiste, who is with the same trainer, so it’ll be an interesting viewing to see how he goes on his UK debut. Looking back at his time in France then you’ll see his winning distances have been of a short neck twice and a head suggesting he’ll need to be produced right on the line because he may not do a great deal in front. That might leave him as a hostage of fortune in a race of this nature.
Ed McMahon’s Express Himself showed plenty of ability when improving last season. He was last seen winning on good to soft ground at Haydock beating Mitchum Swagger, a horse now rated 108, back in Ocotber showing he had very good credentials and a profile to suit this race. He handles cut in the ground and Jim Crowley is 2-2 on this son of Dylan Thomas. On his return to the track last season he finished third at Pontefract to suggest he’ll be able to cope after a 169-day winter break. If he continues to progress there could be a nice horse to follow this campaign.
Mutarakez won the Silver Bowl at Haydock in May and this four-year-old should be handle the big field and he has course form. He won on his first start as a three-year-old at Sandown suggesting he’ll go well fresh plus he does look a type to keep continuing to improve. He got off the market at this track and the straight mile is something that could play to his strengths. Udododontu was second in last year’s Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot and after that run was purchased by Godolphin. He had two runs out in Meydan winning on his first start for the new owner then finishing a close second in a more valuable handicap in February. He was second on soft ground at Redcar on his second ever career start and has only ran on quick ground since.
Man Of Harlech ran on all-weather finals days finishing fourth over 1m2f to Grendisar. Andrew Balding’s charge does have the fitness edge on his side plus is drawn low, which as pointed out seems ideal. Last season he finished in fourth in the 34-runner Cambridgeshire, so he’ll handle the big field size. This five-year-old handles juice in the ground and has placed on both visits to this track. Ideally this field will go a fairly good gallop, which will suit him and make him a big player at a nice price.
Beach Bar is one that is on my shortlist with him being on of the more obvious pace angles into this race. He’s been kept busy having already had five runs in 2016 – all over in Meydan. If over his travelling and excursions then he has to be considered, as he’ll handle this ground and despite this big field could get an uncontested lead. Fire Ship has been kept fit by having two runs over hurdles albeit disappointing ones. In September last year he was third in a Listed Race at Sandown beaten only just over 2l by Elm Park. He is 5lb lower than that run and despite not winning since 2013 he could outrun his odds off this current mark.
Advice: Express Himself (11/1 Each-Way)
Man Of Harlech (16/1 Each-Way)
This Handicap Chase only has six-runners but looks a fascinating race with some nice types looking to claim the £32,000 first prize.
Simply Ned has been keeping better company than this of late after running in a Grade 2 at Naas after finishing last of five in the Grade 1 Clarence House Stakes at Ascot. This looks a simpler task on paper and he returns to a track where he can be considered a specialist having won three of his four starts here – the other was a second. He’s had a break, so should be fresh enough to run his race.
Micky Hammond’s Just Cameron is a favourite of my own and in this race he could get a soft lead, which could help to see him make all. Again this looks easier than his last assignment when in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival where he finished six of ten. He is one of the key players in this race for me.
Dormello Mo gets the vote for Paul Nicholls. This six-year-old has more to offer in this sphere and when seen three weeks ago was second to Kylemore Lough, who has since come out to win a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse. He was beaten by 8l that day for which the handicapper has dropped him 2lb to a mark he has won off previously.
Savello was fourth in the Grand Annual, the final race of the Cheltenham Festival, where he didn’t seem to find too much up the hill. Dan Skelton looks to have got him near his best after a quiet spell, so is involved in this conundrum.
Advice: Dormello Mo (4/1 Win)
The Brocklesby is a Conditions Stakes for two-year-old’s and the majority of these are unraced meaning there is very little to go on.
American trainer Wesley Ward saddles filly Create A Dream here in the first time blinkers. She gets a weight allowance for being a filly. Frankie Dettori takes the ride but being a daughter of Oasis Dream you’d suspect she’d want slightly better ground. For a race of this nature you wouldn’t want to be taking anything at a short price.
Mark Johnston has already had a couple of juvenile winners with Sutter County and Boater. His The Last Lion is also from an Australian sire in the shape of Choisir rather than the other two mentioned being by Helmet. An early foal related to plenty of sprinting types, so is a big player for a top trainer in these circles.
There are two at prices that probably are worth small each-way plays. Firstly Bill Turner has won this race four times in the last ten renewals. He has Crucial Moment in the field and the first foal from a half-sister to Medicean. On pedigree he should go well on this slower ground, as his sire is Pivotal, whose progeny have a 14% strike rate on this soft ground. The other to take a look at is Full Intention for Tom Dascombe. The trainer has been unlucky with his juveniles so far this season with them bumping in to those Johnston types plus the Manor House Stables handler had a runner placed in France, which was later claimed. Full Intention is a brother to a sprint winning two-year-old plus further juvenile winner, so he may be worth following this year.
Advice: Crucial Moment (8/1 Each-Way)
Full Intention (14/1 Each-Way)