We’re just over a week past the Cheltenham Festival but it is already time for the Flat season to get underway. As is tradition, the Lincoln fires the starting pistol for the Flat campaign and a typically competitive field has been assembled for the big race at Doncaster.
The ITV cameras will also be at Doncaster, just as they will be at Kelso and Kempton on Saturday. This week’s ITV Racing coverage features no fewer than nine races. We’ve gone through each of them to make this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:15 SKB Brocklesby Conditions Stakes
Class 4, 5f
Doncaster’s Saturday card begins with a look at the future as 13 two year olds with their whole careers ahead of them taking to the course to compete over five furlongs. As none of these has run before and will therefore be green as they take to the racecourse for their debuts it makes sense to keep stakes low for the opener.
Previous renewals of this race suggest that a higher draw is preferable and it could be that which makes the difference this year. Confederation, a well-break sort for John Butler might be able to take advantage of his draw in stall 11 to run into a place at 33/1. Out of a Dark Angel mare, Confederation is sure to have ample pace and he can utilise that over the minimum trip.
1:35 Schloss Roxburghe Go North Cab On Target Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m5f
The pick of Saturday’s jumps racing comes at Kelso. While the jumps season is still going ahead, the improvement in the weather and subsequent better ground around the country means that horses who regularly compete in summer jumps racing are starting to run well. Some of those types will be seen in Kelso as will horses like Shoughall’s Boy who could well have lots of success in the coming months.
Harriet Graham’s six year old is still learning the ropes but he ran four times from March to May last year and is poised to be busy after returning from a break. A beaten favourite last time out on his first run for 68 days, Shoughall’s Boy will be fitter this time around and can return nicely for each way backers at odds of 14/1.
1:50 SBK Cammidge Trophy Stakes
This year’s Cammidge Trophy isn’t the most competitive renewal with the presence of four horses priced at odds of 10/1 or bigger. However, the three at the top of the market – Garrus, Diligent Harry and Bielsa – should have a real battle for the £22,684 prize on offer to the winner.
Bielsa is the class angle and he has a good record at Doncaster with two wins from his four starts. The trouble for the top weight horse is that he just doesn’t give his best running when there is any cut in the ground. Garrus is more versatile in terms of the ground and has a very good record when running fresh. Charles Hills knows his charge inside out and will have him very well prepared for his first outing of the season so Garrus looks the right favourite at a price of 15/8.
2:05 Unibet Magnolia Stakes
Kempton’s first offering for the ITV Racing viewers comes via the valuable Magnolia Stakes. Seven of the last nine winners of this Listed race were either favourite or joint-favourite and it is going to take a big performance from one of the other seven horses to stop Fancy Man from obliging favourite backers this time around.
Richard Hannon’s four year old just found Alenquer and Lord North had too much for him in the Winter Derby at Lingfield last time out. Connections weren’t surprised to find that race was just a little too much for him but he lost little in defeat and this is much more like his level. A consistent sort with plenty of all-weather experience, he won’t have any issues with the fact that this is his course debut so it’s all in Fancy Man’s hands at odds of 13/8.
2:25 SBK Spring Mile Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The 2022 renewal of the Spring Mile has been mired in controversy before the race begins. Only nine runners have been confirmed for a race which is the lowest ever for the one-mile handicap. Indeed, the conditions for the race say that 10 runners is the minimum number and yet the decision has been made to run the race despite the rules.
There is still some value in the nine-runner field with A Boy Named Ivy interesting at a price of 6/1. The Michael Dods-trained four year old looked in need of a rest when last seen in October but could be competitive odd a mark of 83 going on his best form. The drying ground is in his favour and he should appreciate the pace of the race which, if it goes to plan, will allow him to kick strongly for home. A best price of 6/1 is well worth grabbing each way.
2:40 Unibet Queen’s Prize Handicap
Class 2, 2m
Marco Botti is a very good trainer who is never afraid to take chances with his horses. In his quest to get the maximum out of Moliwood he thought it was worth trying the four year old over two miles at Kempton last time out and the gamble paid off as he was excellent in victory.
Moliwood is now a course and distance winner and there is no reason why he cannot replicate his hold-up tactics to win again. Botti will doubtless be telling Daniel Muscutt what worked so well for Marco Ghiani who rode Moliwood last time. That makes things a bit easier for the jockey who is just as capable of making good use of Moliwood’s finishing kick.
3:00 SBK Doncaster Mile Stakes
The SBK Doncaster Mile Stakes is another contest on the card with a small field. Unlike the Spring Mile, this is not a race in which punters should go in search of value away from the head of the market. That’s because Chindit looks a good thing at odds of 8/11.
Richard Hannon’s high hopes for Chindit did not quite pan out last season. His Group 3 win at Newbury in April was the highlight of the season, rather than an indicator of future success. In Chindit’s defence, he ran at the very top level and there is no shame in being beaten by the likes of Poetic Flare or Palace Pier. This drop in grade looks a sensible way to start Chindit’s season and he should kick things off with a win.
3:15 Herring Queen Series Final Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m4½f
Nicky Henderson had some difficulty at Cheltenham with some of his horses falling foul of conditions. The experienced trainer knows how important it is that horses feel comfortable on the racing surface and he’ll be very happy with the good going at Kelso as it plays into the hands of Theatre Glory.
The five year old lost her unbeaten record in November at Newbury in her first run against Listed company. She got back on track last time out in a Class 3 contest but connections are clearly in no rush to get some black type and Theatre Glory can keep the wins coming in the big race of the day at Kelso at odds of 15/8.
3:35 SBK Lincoln
Class 2, 1m
The betting market for the Lincoln is always interesting and the influence of the last five renewals cannot be missed in the betting. Each of the last five went the way of improving four year olds and the five shortest-priced horses are all four. The last three winners were also well fancied by the market going in at 9/2, 5/2 and 5/1 respectively but could there be value in taking on this year’s top three?
Mujtaba, Modern News and Saleymm all make plenty of appeal but none quite represents the same value as Notre Belle Bete who can be backed at 10/1. Andrew Balding is hopeful of improving on yet another strong season last year and can kick things off in the perfect fashion. A recent arrival at Balding’s yard, Notre Belle Bete has already got off the mark for his new trainer and is ready to step up from his win in the Lincoln Trial to run a very big race in the Lincoln itself. Thankfully, the field for the Lincoln is a maximum 22 so Notre Belle Bete does have his work cut out to win but 10/1 looks a cracking each way price.