YOU normally expect sunshine, daffodils and the sound of birds tweeting at the start of the flat season, not snow storms, frost sheets and gloves. But that is what we’re faced with at Doncaster over the next two days as the worst winter in living memory threatens to wreak more havoc on the racing calendar.
If the William Hill Lincoln (3.50pm) gets the green light tomorrow it is going to be run on pretty testing ground and you will need a horse that truly stays a mile to have any chance whatsoever.
Captain Bertie has been the one for money all week and it’s easy to see why. He was an unlucky loser in the Spring Mile on this card 12 months ago, goes on soft ground and has an excellent record fresh. The problem is his price – he was 12/1 on Saturday but is now best at 7/1 with Coral.
I expect him to go close, but the last two renewals of this race have thrown up shocks and I’m going to stick with a couple of big-priced contenders.
JUSTONEFORTHEROAD is a consistent sort who won a decent race on his reappearance at Musselburgh last season and ended his campaign with another victory at Leicester against one of tomorrow’s rivals, Shamaal Nibras. Richard Fahey’s seven-year-old relishes cut in the ground, has a top class jockey in Freddie Tylicki on board and the stable won this race last year. The 25/1 with Coral is more than fair.
David O’Meara has made a habit of improving horses sent to him and I’m hoping he does the trick again with HIT THE JACKPOT. This Pivotal gelding was formerly trained by Dermot Weld and won what looked a hot maiden at Galway in July 2011.
He was disappointing last campaign, but was running in Group races and it may just be that a drop back to a mile, and handicap company, will work the oracle. It’s a risky punt, but his pedigree screams soft ground and I’m happy to chance him at 18/1 with Coral.
The William Hill Spring Mile (2.40pm) is the consolation race for the Lincoln and it looks ultra-competitive. That said, the one that stands out for me is John Quinn’s LEVITATE at 12/1 with the sponsors.
This is another son of Pivotal, so he will appreciate the conditions, and he has won and finished runner-up in his last two visits to Town Moor. Willie Twiston-Davies takes the ride and he has been on fire since switching permanently to the flat.
If racing gets called off tomorrow, hopefully this afternoon’s meeting will survive, and if it does I strongly fancy MODEL PUPIL to land the Doncaster Shield (2.30pm). Charlie Hills thinks he could end up a Cup horse and he should have too much for today’s rivals.
The Betfair Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday, 29th March will feature a parade of Gold Cup winners. Kauto Star and Bobs Worth will be on show in the afternoon and are likely to be joined by both Long Run and Looks Like Trouble.
You can follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile for all my racing views.
MODEL PUPIL 2.30pm Doncaster (today)
LEVITATE e/w 2.40pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
JUSTONEFORTHEROAD e/w 3.50pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
HIT THE JACKPOT e/w 3.50pm Doncaster (tomorrow)