Turf Talk: Flat racing season gets underway on grass at Doncaster Racecourse

Wanees in action at Ascot. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty ImagesWanees in action at Ascot. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Wanees in action at Ascot. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Harrogate Advertiser horse racing correspondent Jeff Garlick’s latest weekly column.

It is the start of the Flat racing season on grass at Doncaster on Saturday. The Pertemps Network Group are sponsoring the entire card on Town Moor culminating in the Lincoln, a Heritage Handicap worth £77,000 to the winner.

My earliest memory of the Lincoln is Frankincense landing a massive gamble when winning the race in 1968 for trainer John Oxley, ridden by Greville Starkey.

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Barry Hills was Head Lad at the time and won so much money he was able to buy some stables and start training in his own right. Hills went on to have a glittering training career, winning five Classics and ‘siring’ two top jockeys, twins Michael and Richard.

Hills also won the 2003 Lincoln with Pablo, ridden by Michael, and I am hoping that another of his sons, Charles, can continue the family tradition with Wanees.

The key to this horse is soft ground, which he should get on Saturday. He won easily when last seen at Haydock in September and the word from Lambourn is that he has been working well.

In recent years this race has been won by Newmarket stables running unexposed horses who later prove to be Group class. Al Mubhir and Awaal fit that profile this year but Wanees remains the first choice.

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Another horse who will appreciate plenty of give underfoot is the Karl Burke-trained El Caballo. He rattled up an early season four-timer last year before bombing out at Royal Ascot on good to firm ground.

He started favourite for that Group One Commonwealth Cup which shows how highly he is rated so he should have no trouble lifting the Cammidge Trophy, a mere Listed race.

There is also all-weather racing televised from Kempton Park. The fact that Champion Jockey William Buick forsakes Doncaster to ride Secret State in the Magnolia Stakes is a tip in itself.

Former champion Oisin Murphy could also land the Queen’s Prize on Aztec Empire, his first big ride in Britain following his 14-month suspension.

Garlick’s Goodies: Doncaster 3:00 – El Caballo; 3:35 – Wanees; Kempton 2:05 – Secret State; 3:15 – Aztec Empire.

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