Half of the last 12 winners of the one mile Flat season curtain-raiser have been aged just four. With MANGE ALL, Gm Hopkins and Zarwaan leading the charge this year, that statistic is likely to read seven from 13 come tomorrow night.
Trainer William Haggas will be hoping Mange All can become his fourth winner of the contest from only his seventh runner. This has reportedly been the plan long since the son of Zamindar finished fourth to Gm Hopkins, another of tomorrow’s rivals, in the Silver Cambridgeshire at Newmarket last September.
Mange All can race off a mark of just 97, which is 1lb lower than stablemate Penitent was allotted when he won the 2010 renewal for Haggas. He should take plenty of stopping at 11/2 with Betway.
If the rain does stay away then my selection's biggest danger will be his chief market rival Gm Hopkins. John Gosden, who won this race back in 2009 with a similar type, has also had this race in mind for some time. He seemed all at sea on soft ground on his final two starts as a three-year-old, but the return to a sounder surface will help him bounce back.
However, every drop of rain that falls between now and tomorrow's race will be music to the ears of Zarwaan's trainer Ed Dunlop. The son of Dutch Art is arguably the most unexposed of the three well-fancied Newmarket-trained four-year-olds. He races from a mark only 1lb higher than when not beaten far in last season's Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot. If the going has 'soft' anywhere in the description, he looks the value call at 7/1 with Betway.
Looking for those likely to run well at much bigger prices, my eyes are drawn to both BELGIAN BILL at 20/1 and Gabrial at 16/1. The former has been in rude health over in Dubai, still seems on a fair mark, and will relish the strong pace and decent surface. The latter was campaigned over middle distances last season and bounced back when returning to this trip on his final start. As a former winner of the Doncaster Mile he could go well for a trainer who landed this prize three years ago.
Jack Dexter will be a warm order for the Betway Cammidge Trophy (2.35pm) should the rain arrive, as he’ll be free of the penalty that prevented him from landing the prize for a second successive year 12 months ago. Cut in the ground seems essential to him, however, as he’s never won on ground better than good to soft. Keep an eye on the skies if you want to back him. I prefer the chances of Richard Fahey’s Heaven’s Guest and last year’s winner DINKUM DIAMOND, with slight preference for the latter. He ran with consistency throughout the last campaign and may just be the value alternative if the emphasis switches to speed rather than stamina.
How Andrew Balding’s TULLIUS failed to win last year’s Lincoln from a mark of 109 when he bolted up in a Group Two on his next start is one of life’s mysteries. He looks a rock solid proposition in the Betway Doncaster Mile (2.00pm) and should take plenty of catching.
TULLIUS 2.00pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
DINKUM DIAMOND 2.35pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
MANGE ALL 3.45pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
BELGIAN BILL e/w 3.45pm Doncaster (tomorrow)