It’s April, the weather has turned, spring is upon us. That means the return of the flat turf-racing season, and we are delighted it’s back.
Doncaster is host to one of the season opening cards, with the feature race, the Lincoln Handicap Mile.
Yuften looks set to go off a warm favourite for the race and is currently priced at 4/1 in a competitive field of 22. The market has demonstrated plenty of confidence in Roger Charlton’s horse. His price partly reflects his eye-catching run on his return on the all-weather in a Listed contest at Wolverhampton a couple of weeks ago, where he was a close and pressing third in a decent race.
Yuften’s victory in the Balmoral Handicap last October on Champion’s Day at Ascot was his best performance to date, and he may be destined for a return to more pattern-level racing this season and looks a solid betting proposition for this. He did, however, have the run of the race at Ascot on the far side rail, whereas a number of re-opposing horses met trouble in running and are racing on improved terms.
The negatives for the jolly also include a 4lb rise for a length victory in the Balmoral, and the ground, which looks set to be gd-sft. He is yet to finish in the places on four attempts where the going has had soft anywhere in the description, and is therefore opposed at the current odds.
Preference is for DONNCHA, who finished ninth in the Balmoral after getting badly hampered twice when making his challenge. He would have otherwise gotten close to Yuften had that not been the case, and a 4lb swing with the current favourite is a major bonus.
He remains on a mark of 100, where he held his form well last season, and raced in a Listed contest to finish off the 2016 campaign where he finished a respectable 4/8 – a short-head – behind the 113-rated Latharnach.
Donncha’s record in big-field handicaps last season was highly consistent and he was desperately unlucky not to pick up a victory, but it has helped preserve his mark somewhat and the juice in the ground will be of no concern.
Jamie Spencer has been booked for the ride and he could be an excellent fit, with this horse doing all his best work at the end of the race, and his jockey is a master at timing a late run. This is Donncha’s first start of the season and that could be a slight concern if he lacks race fitness, but his form figures read 2162 after more than a 150 day break so he seems to go well fresh.
The last of those races was a C&D run on soft ground, when he was drawn in the outside stall of 19 (drawn 21 here), and where he finished 2/19. So we know he likes the course.
We also think TOP NOTCH TONTO could be set for a massive race coming off his prep run on the all-weather in the Lincoln trail. Brian Ellison, his trainer, says he is in cracking form and has a great chance.
Class 2 big-field handicaps is less familiar territory for this regular pattern-level racer, but his record is superb when he drops to this standard with two seconds on his last two attempts at this trip in large handicaps.
He is racing 3lbs below his previous winning mark of 108, and with a 7lb claimer on-board looks particularly well-treated. Top Notch Tonto will not mind the going one bit, and he has certainly got the class to pick up this type of prize off his current mark of 105.
Oh This Is Us would make plenty of appeal if the ground was dryer and Dolphin Vista could be the pick of the respected Richard Fahey quintet.
0.75pts each-way Donncha @9/1, 15:35 Saturday, Doncaster
0.5pt each-way Top Notch Tonto @12/1, 15:35 Saturday, Doncaster
(1/5 odds, 6 places with Skybet)
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