April Fool’s day sees a switch in the racing focus, as Doncaster plays host to the opening day of the flat turf season. The ITV cameras will be in South Yorkshire to see how it all unfolds, with the all-weather track of Kempton chipping in with three competitive contests to round out the seven-race TV card.
Highlights at Donny include the opening two-year-old event of the season in the Brocklesby Stakes, and the Listed class Cammidge Trophy, whilst the pick of the contests from Kempton comes in the form of another Listed event in the Magnolia Stakes. It is then back to Doncaster for the feature race of the day, with the latest edition of the historic Lincoln Handicap. Here we pick out our best bets in each of the seven races on offer, in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Pertemps Network EBF Brocklesby Stakes
Class 2, 5f
Eighteen horses without a run between them line up for the opener, so this comes down to which pedigree/trainer combination makes the most appeal. Amo Racing Limited won this with the talented Persian Force 12 months ago, and the dogs in Lambourn are barking that the same owners Valadero may be the one this time around. This Starspangledbanner colt looks good on paper, but having been backed to the exclusion of almost everything else, makes only limited betting appeal in such a big field.
Andrew Balding’s Loaded Gun makes the shortlist for promising new sire Magna Grecia but again hasn’t been missed by the market. In a tricky race, we will be having an each-way punt on Havana Prince at a huge price. Trainer Tony Coyle has had just three runners in this over the past 10 years and came close to causing a big upset when Broken Spear went down by under a length in 2018. Sire Havana Grey posted one of his best career efforts on his only start on soft, whilst half-siblings Ascraeus and Sicilian Belle also handled give underfoot. With conditions likely to be tough on the day, he has enough in his favour to warrant a small punt, particularly with a number of firms offering additional places on the race.
2:05 Unibet More Extra Place Races Magnolia Stakes
The eye is immediately drawn to Charlie Appleby’s Secret State in the opening TV event from Kempton. Winning four times last season over trips ranging from 1m½f to 1m4f, this impeccably bred gelding may just have a class edge on the field. However, all those wins came on turf, and he looks short enough on his first start on a synthetic surface.
Foxes Tale and Tyrrhenian Sea ran well behind Meydan hero Lord North last time out and ought to go well again, but the one who may just be underestimated is David Menusier’s Belloccio. This son of Belardo is a perfect three from three at Kempton and posted an excellent time for the most recent of those successes – beating the standard time for the course, despite the track riding on the slow side. This will be his first start of the season, but he has won first time up twice in the past and is fancied to go close once again.
2:25 Pertemps Network Spring Mile Handicap
Class 2, 1m
Back to Donny for this next event which serves as a consolation race for those runners who didn’t quite make the cut for the Lincoln. In common with the main event, we have a maximum field of 22 set to go to post in what looks like a fiendishly competitive affair.
Baltimore Boy goes for the Michael Bell and Jamie Spence combination and makes the most appeal from those at the head of the market on his turf handicap debut. Lower down the list, Susan Corbett’s Clear Angel appeals at a really big price, with only a light weight to carry on ground which ought to suit.
However, the one for us is Zozimus from the yard of David O’Meara. The Yorkshire-based trainer does well with recruits from other yards and looks to have another likely sort on his hands here. Zozimus boasts bits and pieces of Irish form which would give him a strong chance on his first start for O’Meara since making the switch from Donnacha O’Brien. The fact that he stays further than this should help his cause, and O’Meara is operating at an impressive 25% strike rate over the past two weeks.
2:40 Try Unibet’s Improved Bet Builder Handicap
Class 3, 1m
We stick to one-mile handicapping action in our next event, but this time back on the Polytrack at Kempton. Business looks the most appealing of those at a double-figure price, but needs to show that he has the stamina for this trip. Overall we feel the market has this right in making it between Naval Commander, Stately Home and Million Thanks, with the latter narrowly getting the vote.
Still only four years old, this Kevin Philippart De Foy runner is more open to improvement than his main market rivals and posted an excellent effort when only losing out by a nose over this course and distance last time out. The time was good that day, and with four lengths back to the third, the form looks solid. Whilst he is up three pounds in the handicap, he carries only 9st2lb, as opposed to the welter burden of 10 stone in that most recent outing. Hopefully, that factor will help him maintain his finishing effort in the closing stages and see him go one better under Richard Kingscote.
3:00 Pertemps Network Cammidge Trophy Stakes
This Listed class contest from Town Moor looks to be a good race for the grade, with a number of these having strutted their stuff at a higher level in the past. El Cabello heads the betting for Karl Burke and makes obvious appeal, having scored in Group 2 company last term and won on his only start on soft ground.
It’s hard to knock the jolly, whilst King’s Lynn and Vadream are also interesting back in Listed company. However, the one who looks to be overpriced from an each-way perspective is the Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old, Ehraz. As recently as June of last year, this one was being sent off as the 15/2 fourth favourite in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, when running a respectable race to be beaten by three and a half lengths into sixth place. He’s priced at odds of 9/1 here despite having run creditably in his two starts since, and may well find improvement on his first start since a gelding operation. With Jim Crowley in the saddle, he looks a good bet to at least hit the frame.
3:15 Unibet Queen’s Prize Handicap
Class 2, 2m
The stamina-laden performers take to the track in this next event, which acts as part of the London Stayers series. With all bar one of the six-runner field having previously won over the track and trip, this looks a pretty warm contest.
Bandinelli and Bascule were separated by just a short head when third and fourth here back in December and ought to be on the premises, whilst Aced It looks the most attractive each-way option. However, we see this going to the market leader. Andrew Balding’s Aztec Empire was most impressive when scoring over course and distance last time out; cruising into contention before quickly putting the race to bed with his useful turn of foot. He’s up six pounds here, but that may not be enough to stop him.
3:10 Pertemps Network Lincoln
Class 2, 1m
Last but by no means least, the headline act of the day and one of the biggest betting handicaps of the season, as 22 go to post in the Lincoln. William Haggas has already landed the Irish version of this race and may go close to landing a famous double, with his Frankel colt, Al Mubhir currently at the head of the market. Only seven pounds higher than when easily winning a Class 3 contest at Haydock on his final start at three, he looks a danger to all on his first start since a wind op.
Awaal is another likely sort for Simon and Ed Crisford and did finish ahead of Al Mubhir at Haydock last year, whilst Charlie Fellowes, Atrium rounded off 2022 with a win over course and distance and should be involved. Overall, those available at single-figure prices bring similar claims to the table and are tough to split.
With many firms paying additional places, we again prefer an each-way punt, and the one to get the vote is Roger Fell’s recent recruit from the Joseph O’Brien yard, Toshizou. This one needs to be played fast and late, but may find the frenetic nature of this race right up his street, and is two pounds lower than when beaten just over two lengths in a strong event at Leopardstown last season.