Spring has sprung with the weather and it also signals a return of the Flat with Doncaster taking centre stage this weekend, while it is the final day of the Dubai Carnival with a very lucrative meeting at Meydan.
1.50 DONCASTER – DILIGENT HARRY
Five of the last eight winners of the Cammidge Trophy have been 4yo’s and only two of the seven runner field fall into that category this year.
Mo Celita had an incredible rise last year from selling company to fourth in the G1 Prix De L’Abbaye but all her best form came with give in the ground.
The lightly raced DILIGENT HARRY looks the one here for Clive Cox. He wouldn’t have appreciated the soft ground at Ascot in the Champions Sprint when last seen but he too was very progressive last season. After winning on AW finals day on Good Friday, he went on to be placed in a pair of Group 3’s and this represents a drop in grade on seasonal return. He has a speedy pedigree and this looks an ideal starting point for his season for the lightly raced sprinter.
Garrus heads the market and the ratings. He has an excellent record fresh and was well backed in midweek to enhance it for Charles Hills and he is also returning at a lower level than he is used to. He is a 6yo though and I’d rather have the younger runner with still potential improvement to come, however.
2.25 DONCASTER – GENERAL LEE
A much smaller field than usual for the Spring Mile, which is a consolation race for those that don’t make the cut for the Lincoln. Favourites have a poor record in the race, but we are usually talking about a 20 runner field, whereas only nine face the starter in 2022.
Empirestateofmind was consistent last season, rising a total of 21lb in his final five races but he needs to resume that progress from a five month break here.
Plenty of the runners are fit from all-weather campaigns but I am siding with another runner returning from an absence having not been seen since August.
GENERAL LEE was winning at Goodwood back then and although is 6lb higher for his return, he looks likely to progress this campaign. It took a while for the penny to drop for him, but he got off the mark nicely at Windsor on his seventh start before comfortably scoring at Goodwood. He has had a nice break and looks sure to kick on this season and could be well treated as a result. He is the least exposed in the field and is worth a punt.
2.45 KELSO – EMPIRE STEEL
Just four runners go to post for the staying handicap chase at Kelso.
Potterman has had a breathing operation since last seen on Boxing Day as connections hope to get him back on track. He won the big end of season staying chase at Sandown in the Stewards room but has pulled up on three of his subsequent four starts.
Rath an Iuir gets over a stone from his other three rivals with the lightly raced 9yo last seen four weeks ago finishing a distant sixth in the Eider Chase but is down to his last winning mark.
This can be fought out though by the two course specialists. Big River has won eight of his twelve Kelso starts and hails from an in-form yard, but he has never won off a mark this high and was well beaten here three weeks ago when only fourth.
EMPIRE STEEL has been impressive in winning both his course starts to date. He trounced Protektorat no less last February by 41 lengths (form not taken at face value) and had 16 lengths to spare over his rivals here in heavy ground five weeks ago. He almost gave 21lb to the improving Strictlyadancer on seasonal debut before falling in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day when looking to be travelling the best.
He has been put up 7lb by the handicapper for the latest victory, but jockey Ryan Mania thinks he is graded class in the making and as long the ground is deemed suitable enough for him to take his chance, he should take the beating here.
See Ryan Mania’s thoughts on is Saturday Kelso rides here.
3.35 DONCASTER – DARKNESS
A competitive Lincoln field as it should be for the season’s first big field heritage handicap.
Charlie Appleby and William Haggas trained four-year-olds have been a profitable formula to finding the winner in recent years and they both have likely types here in Modern News for the former and Mujtaba for Haggas, who looks to win his fifth Lincoln and become the race's most successful trainer.
Modern News is fit from a spell in Dubai where he finished third at listed level, while Mujtaba is unbeaten in three starts but faces a much stiffer task here than any of those. Apprentice Harry Davies will ride Modern News which has also been a key to success in big field handicaps the last few seasons with two of the last eight Lincoln winners ridden by young rising stars. Mujtaba was also due to be apprentice ridden but Cieran Fallon replaces 5lb claimer Adam Farragher who has broken his foot in a gallops fall.
Saleymm is the other Newmarket raider from the head of the market after a pair of all-weather successes last year. He went up 10lb for the latest of them and needs to prove his effectiveness on turf.
The winner may well come from this trio but I’m looking for some value in a 22-runner field.
DARKNESS represents David O’Meara who won this with a stable debutant in 2017 in Bravery and who coincidentally was also drawn in stall 20, up the stands side rail. Bravery was bought from Ireland, while Darkness started his career in France for Jean-Claude Rouget and was thought good enough to run in Group 1 company as a juvenile.
He ran well in three starts in pattern company last season, has been gelded upon his move to Yorkshire and a mark of 95 could be quite lenient for a yard who has a history with their successful recruiting.
Rogue Bear is another improving 4yo who could run well at a decent price and is berthed next door in stall 19. He is on a hat-trick and is just 2lb higher for his latest in October when dead-heating at Nottingham.
At a much bigger price, What’s The Story could hit the frame for Keith Dalgleish. He returned last season in the Listed Doncaster Mile where he finished second to take his course record to 192. He is 4lb lower on this season’s return having been off since July and is well berthed in stall 10, the provider of two of the last three winners.
The final day of the Dubai Carnival where the feature Dubai World Cup takes place worth an incredible £9m. Life Is Good is a worthy odds-on favourite after his Pegasus Cup romp and has been looking in fantastic order in workouts. His American compatriot, Hot Rod Charlie, is likely to offer the most resistance after an impressive prep at the track seven weeks ago.
The brand new Mr & Mrs Marquand also have excellent chances elsewhere on the card.
Hollie Doyle (Mrs Marquand) could have a lovely spin on SAFFRON BEACH in the Dubai Turf. She ended last year with victory in the G1 Sun Chariot Stakes and looks worth an each way play in receipt of weight all around, while Tom should have a good spin on Winter Derby hero ALENQUER in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
I was really impressed with his Lingfield success as I thought a tight ten furlongs may find him out, but he tanked through that and quickened up well. A return to 1m 4f will be of benefit and he looks set for a very profitable 4yo campaign in the big middle-distance races.
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