Saturday Racing Preview: Top Tips Ahead Of UK Flat Season Curtain Raiser

Betfred's Matt Hulmes gives us his best tips ahead of this weekend's action at Kempton and Doncaster
17:00, 31 Mar 2023

The start of the UK turf flat season is upon us with the traditional curtain raiser of the Lincoln at Doncaster and some decent fare at Kempton on the all-weather too.


The Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton sees the return of Godolphin’s Secret State, who rose the handicap ranks last season before disappointing at Ascot on his final start in September, which came after a solid second din the Great Voltigeur, behind subsequent Melbourne Cup fourth, Deauville Legend. 

That form is the standard bearer, but it could be a breakthrough year for James Horton at his Manor House Stables, purpose built by John and Jess Dance in Middleham and PHANTOM FLIGHT may well be his flagbearer. 

A luckless third in a hot handicap at Newmarket’s July meeting was followed by a runaway success in a competitive handicap at York’s Ebor meeting and he was sent off odds on for the Doonside Cup at Ayr in September but ran well below expectations. A winter to strengthen up and the fact he has been supported in the market suggests he could go well here. Another positive is northern based retained rider PJ McDonald heads south despite having chances on the card at Doncaster.

Phantom Flight
Phantom Flight


The Spring Mile is for those horses who just missed the cut for the Lincoln itself and it could give valuable clues for the draw. 

Broken Spear was fifth in the Lincoln itself last year and is 4lb lower twelve months on, plus has the assistance of Billy ‘The Kid’ Loughnane in the plate and his invaluable 5lb claim. 

Isla Kai is a two-time course and distance winner, but both were over the round course.

Last year’s winner ARTHUR’S REALM returns with a much tougher task, but one he may well be up to. He was drawn one last year in just an eight-runner field and is 8lb higher for his title defence, while he now hails from the stall hard up the stands rail in number 22. His form figures on soft ground read 23163 with the sixth coming over an extended mile and he was also close up behind Atrium and Empirestateofmind over this track and trip at the St Leger meeting off a mark 2lb higher than this weekend. 

He had a pipe opener on the all-weather a fortnight ago and he will be hard to keep out of the first five for each way returns.

3.00 DONCASTER – EHRAZ*     

The Cammidge Trophy looks an excellent renewal with a dozen sprinters looking to start the season off in the best way.

El Caballo was last seen as a disappointing favourite in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot while Asjad landed some decent handicap sprints last season including here on Town Moor.

Commanche Falls is admirably consistent while Tactical is an intriguing runner for new connections who are renowned for their sprinters.

EHRAZ may improve past them all though with another winter to strengthen up. Richard Hannon’s charge has been gelded since last season which included an excellent sixth in the Commonwealth Cup when he found himself on a wing. He was off for four months before a disappointing run again at Ascot in the Bengough Stakes but will have benefited from a confidence boosting penalty kick at Newmarket at the end of October. 

Although he has never run on soft ground, he is a close relative of Pearl Secret, who relished giving underfoot and at around 8/1, he looks worth a shot.


A wide open look to the Lincoln as one would expect with the usual array of unexposed 4yos trained in Newmarket, the key to finding four of the last six winners. 

The draw over the last ten years has also proven inconsequential with winners coming from all over the track, but keep an eye on the Spring Mile an hour earlier for clues. 

Al Mubhir bids to give William Haggas a fifth Lincoln and will be popular while Awaal looked very progressive in his four runs last season and Baradar has a win and a Group 1 third on his CV from two visits to Town Moor. 

Wanees has major claims for Charlies Hills having won the Esher Cup and a hot Haydock handicap as a 3yo but my eye is drawn to ATRIUM for Charlie Fellowes and Kieran Shoemark. 

He would have been a very unlucky loser and was clearly ahead of his mark when winning well at Newbury last August and then followed up ahead of Empirestateofmind over track and trip on soft ground at the St Leger meeting. He came from the rear on that occasion and ended up on the far side of the track, value for more than the half-length winning margin.

He is only up 4lb but is open to plenty of improvement while his form figures on ground good or worse read 3144111 and at a double figure price, he has to be the pick.

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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