It was great to see the return of the British flat season in the Doncaster spring sunshine. You can read my thoughts on Saturday’s action on Town Moor and an early look at the Grand National and couple of other Aintree fancies inside…
Doyle Keeps It Nice And Simple
The first big race of the new flat season the Lincoln Handicap was won in impressively by the Godolphin owned Auxerre. The 4-year-old had the potential to be the proverbial Group horse in handicap and so it proved.
James Doyle deserves the plaudits for his ride on the winner. He had worked out there wasn’t a lot of pace in the race. He quickly got the front and once there was never headed, as he proved too classy for his rivals.
It’s A Ripp Orf
Before the race I thought the David Elsworth trained Ripp Orf was in the grip of the handicapper. Now, I am not so sure. Held up as normal, the 5-year-old was tanking along in the hands of Hayley Turner. Making good headway two out he didn’t get the best of passages. Evan with a clearer passage he wouldn't have beaten the winner. Still it was good to see him finish his race off as strongly as he did to grab 5th.
Given how well he performs at Ascot, on good to firm going, 2 wins from 3 runs 3 placed with form figures 131 and on good to firm going 3 wins from 7 runs 6 placed with form figures 1212314.
The gelding is 5lb higher than for the last of those wins but on the evidence of his Lincoln run remains on a competitive mark.
I can can see him going well in a big field Ascot handicap once again this season.
Birkenhead, trained by Mick Channon, was the subject of some good reports before the Brockelsby Stakes. He looked fit enough before the race but when asked for his effort his inexperience was apparent and he was too green to do himself justice.
However, the experience will not be lost on the colt. He’s no superstar juvenile in the making but looks more than capable of winning a race in the coming weeks.
The form of this years first two-year-old race could be worth following. As both the winner Show Me Show Me and runner-up Strong Power look capable of better.
Randox Health Grand National Festival
Here's my take on the National and a couple of other horses that look worth bets this week.
Randox Grand National
Looking to shortlist contenders for the race using the trends? You could do worse than use the following:
Horses Age: 8 And 11
Max Distance Won: 3m 1f +
Runs Last 90-days: 1 And 3
Runs In Chases: 10+
Handicap Chase Wins: 1 to 3
These trends have found 10 of the last 11 winners or 91% of the winners from 24% of the total runners.
My fancy is Joe Farrell. The 10-year-old ran well to finish runner-up at Newbury last time. I can see last years Scottish Grand National winner go well if his last race doesn't come too quick. Number 56 on the list of entries, he's by no means certain to get a run. However, if he does 50/1 looks too big to ignore.
Other Aintree Fancies
Shanahan’s Turn looks worth a bet in Friday's Topham Chase. The 11-year-old was second in last year’s race and can race off an 8lb lower mark this time around. Form this season has been poor, but he's likely been trained for the race and at 33/1, looks too big to ignore. Assuming he can get in the race.
Duke Of Navan, trained by Nicky Richards, would have to be of interest if he was to take his place in Thursday's Red Rum Handicap Chase. Beaten just a head off this mark at Cheltenham back in October he was also an excellent 3rd at Leopardstown over Christmas on his last start. Despite his age he's on a winnable mark and 20/1 looks decent each-way value to me.
Last weeks Monday tip Jacob Cats plugged on into third to land the each-way money.
2:50 – Marcilhac, trained by Venetia Williams, has pulled up on both his starts this season. However, it’s worth noting his top three Racing Post Ratings have come over C&D and the 10-year-old is on a winnable mark if boucing back to his best.
Marcilhac – 10/1
Until next week.