Tag Archive for: Doncaster

French Master shows true worth with Doncaster triumph

French Master put a disappointing racecourse debut at Sandown behind him to run out an impressive winner in the bettingsites.co.uk Safe Betting Sites Novice Stakes at Doncaster.

The Frankel colt missed the break at the Esher course and never recovered but on this occasion he came from off the pace alongside the far-side rail under Robert Havlin as they entered the final furlong.

And when Havlin asked him for an effort, the John and Thady Gosden-trained three-year-old pulled clear to hit the winning line a length and a quarter ahead of Regal Connection at odds of 11-4.

The Normandie Stud colours were carried home by Sweet William in the same race 12 months ago and he went on to score again at Newbury and Goodwood before stepping up in class this season to win the Group Three Henry II Stakes prior to finishing third in the Ascot Gold Cup behind Kyprios.

Havlin said: “We were disappointed with him the last day but he fluffed his lines at the start and it was a good strong pace and he was behind the bridle the whole way, but learning the whole time.

“He wanted a step up in trip and the penny was still dropping as the race was progressing.

“Hopefully he’ll be sharper again the next day. My legs are like jelly, I was never on the bridle. I was slapping the shoulder the whole way round.

“He’s very laid back at home and the penny’s dropping with him and he stayed very well there. I think he’ll get sharper after having a race like that. He could go further but I’d keep him at a mile and a half at the minute.”

Brave Nation enters the winning enclosure
Brave Nation finally got his nose in front (Chris Phillips/PA)

Brave Nation ended a frustrating run of near-misses in the feature bettingsites.co.uk Betting Sites Handicap.

The Michael Bell-trained four-year-old had finished second on his last two starts but Billy Loughnane got him up to edge out Squealer by a nose at 100-30 this time, with Intervention a head back in third.

Loughnane said: “The race went very smoothly for him. They went a nice gallop up top. I was just trying to ride him with as much confidence as I can.

“I didn’t have the ideal passage through but he’s been in great shape.”

Qaasid comes into the winning enclosure
Qaasid got back to winning ways (Chris Phillips/PA)

Qaasid bolted up to win the bettingsites.co.uk New Betting Sites Handicap under a well-judged ride from Ryan Sexton.

The six-year-old had become tough to predict after following victory at Newbury with an indifferent run at York.

But once Sexton switched the Julie Camacho-trained gelding to the centre of the course, he turned on the jets to leave the field in his wake and come home two and three-quarter lengths clear of Stressfree at 11-1.

Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and the assistant trainer, said: “When he’s good, he’s good. He is (hard to predict).

“We were really pleased with him at Newbury and at York it was just a different class of animal and I think they took him out of his comfort zone. Whereas today, he went a long way on the bridle and picked up well and that seemed to suit him.

“He’s in the sales next week at Newmarket, so we’ll test the market with him and have a chat with (owner) Martin (Hughes) in the meantime. When you see him win like that, he looks a decent animal.”

Beylerbeyi defied a 5lb penalty to make it a quickfire double on Town Moor and a hat-trick overall when scoring by half a length in the bettingsites.co.uk Fair Betting Sites Handicap.

The Ian Williams-trained four-year-old was penalised for his victory on the same course last week but it made no difference as he came home in the hands of Richard Kingscote at Evens.

Harvanna got her nose in front heading into the final furlong in the AGM Safety Ltd Fillies’ Handicap and kept on in the hands of Sam James to hold off favourite Miss Attitude and land the spoils at 9-4.

Bella Taslina completed a double for Kingscote in the Howarth Timber And Building Supplies Fillies’ Handicap at 11-2 and in the concluding Summer Saturday Series At Doncaster Handicap, Kodi Red took top honours at 12-1.



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New Century gives Kameko a winner at Doncaster

New Century provided another winner for his sire Kameko when taking the Anthony Fletcher Takepayments EBF Novice Stakes at Doncaster.

The colt – trained like his sire by Andrew Balding – made his debut in a Lingfield maiden in early June and came home in fourth place under Oisin Murphy.

The winner from that race, Al Qudra, was then beaten only a length when fifth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, form that looked to bode well for New Century ahead of his second start.

Ridden by Murphy again, the 13-8 favourite ran a pleasing race in a field of well-bred rivals to prevail by a two and a quarter lengths from Ralph Beckett and Wathnan Racing’s Consolidation.

“Each jockey thought they were riding a nice horse in this race, I know there were only six runners but there was plenty to like about this bunch of horses,” said Murphy.

“The ones (Kameko offspring) that are most forward are just starting to step up, he was a miler himself and now is the time of year when you’ll see them stepping up on the track.

“All the signs are good, if we found a few more like this one we’ll be very happy.”

Murphy then enjoyed a second winner on the card in Beylerbeyi, who landed the Rory Anderson Takepayments Handicap for trainer Ian Williams as the 11-8 favourite.

“The pace was really steady, he was fine once he got in behind but it took me a few strides,” the jockey said.

“He’s a big mover and I hope he’s one that will improve, Ian thought he’d go very well and that he was in good form so it’s nice to win on him.”

Richard Fahey’s Minnesota Lad won for the first time since 2022 when landing the Cam Fork Lifts Trucks 30th Anniversary Handicap under Billy Garritty.

The chestnut has not been too far from the action in a range of five- and six-furlong sprints since his last success, but victory has proved elusive and his mark has gradually fallen to a low of 72.

Capitalising on that on Town Moor, the chestnut was given a well-timed ride to strike as the 7-2 joint-favourite and prevail by a neck.

“He’s been knocking on the door, he’s very genuine and that gives you confidence,” said Garritty.

“Luckily enough it worked out, the horse on my left was a bit keen out of the stalls and took up two places, including mine, but we managed to get out of it.

“He did it well and they’ve done a very good job with him.”

Novello Lad was the winner of the six-furlong Marie Mills Takepayments Handicap for Paul Midgley and David Nolan.

The 5-4 favourite was making his fifth start for the stable and his third since being gelded at the end of last year.

He finished third in his two previous starts, including a course and distance run at Doncaster and a narrow loss at Thirsk.

This time he came out on top, battling in the final furlong to get his head in front and triumph by half a length.

“I was delighted with him and I was always comfortable,” said Nolan.

“I had to get him to switch off and he came through for me. He has a tendency to over-race, but he’s learning and today he did a great job.”

Golden Myrrh followed up a win last time out at Wolverhampton with another, taking the Jamie & Rif Takepayments Champions Cup Fillies’ Handicap under Rossa Ryan as the evens favourite.

Elsewhere on the card it was Miss Gitana who took the Jade Markham And The TPC Trailblazers Handicap as the 9-4 favourite for Sir Mark Prescott and Daniel Muscutt, before the concluding Ashleigh Lodge Takepayments Handicap was won by Glistening Nights (3-1 favourite) in a double for Fahey and Garritty.



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Monday Musings: Waiting…

W H Smith said the 2024 version of Horses In Training would be available for dispatching from March 20th, writes Tony Stafford. Normally, I would buy my copy a few days earlier than that, at Cheltenham, but this time I wasn’t there, and rather inconveniently forgot to ask the Editor, who was, to collect one for me.

Age doesn’t help. A few years ago, I bought a copy from the Racing Post shop there and duly left it in the box that was obligingly made available – necessary as I’d not bothered to book a press badge for the week.

WHS said – or rather its web site did, it seems they don’t have any actual people working for them nowadays – that it would take two or three days to arrive. It hasn’t. I’m a bit worried because on the same ordering page, they still have Horses In Training 2023 available at the same price. Few authors can share editor Graham Dench’s smugness that an out-of-date issue is as valuable as the new one.

You might ask why I should be worried that a company with the worldwide reputation of W H Smith to protect could be thought to be that slipshod. Last year, when the wonderful Sir Rupert Mackeson arranged through his sources to get me HIT 2023, it duly arrived from the year before so I’m holding (or not) my breath. They did send the correct one out eventually.

Why am I so het up about it? Well, it’s the start of the flat and I always like to look at which yards have accumulated more horses than before and note the trainers who prefer not to reveal their equine strengths.

In general, the big get bigger, the small struggle and it needs something a little different for a trainer to make an early impact. As George Boughey has shown over the past few years, being youthful as well as able comes into it, and he was up to 165 officially last year. I wonder how many in 2024 – no don’t tell me – I’ll wait until tomorrow or whenever the priceless volume arrives.

When I was introduced by our mutual friend Michelle Fernandes to Dylan Cunha at the April sale in Newmarket last year, I confess I hadn’t heard of him, or if I had, it would have skimmed over my consciousness like so many things do nowadays. But looking at HIT after our chat, I saw he had 17 horses in his yard in Windsor Road, Newmarket.

Dylan is from South Africa and left the land of his birth a couple of years ago to see if he could make it over here. A winning Group 1 trainer back home, he had chanced him arm but with the help of the highly-talented Silver Sword in the yard – an impressive winner of the last race at York’s Ebor meeting last year – he made quite a stir.

Needing a larger premises as the numbers crept up, he did a deal to take over the famed Phantom House Stables of William Jarvis when the last trainer of that revered surname decided to call time – understandably keeping the family home on the premises.

A great friend and contemporary from Harrow school of William Haggas, it must have become in part a frustration to see his pal’s career travelling in the opposite direction, perhaps one day even to the extent that Haggas might make it to champion trainer, but it will need a slowing-down from the Gosdens and Aidan O’Brien, maybe even Roger Varian, to permit that.

The move sorted, Dylan was always active at the sales and by this point he has 50 horses under his care – I’m not sure whether HIT will have caught up with it. Last week I read an article in the admirable South African Monday to Friday racing publication Turf Talk that published an interview with the family man who is doing his home country proud.

It revealed that he was running a two-year-old in the Brocklesby on the opening day of the flat. Traditionally the first juvenile race of the season from its time until 1964 at Lincoln racecourse, it often brings out a nice debutant.

Zminiature, named for his size but clearly not his ability, dealt with his 14 opponents in authoritative style, expertly guided home by Rhys Clutterbuck, nicely settled into his new role as Dylan’s stable jockey. They also had a winner together with 9/1 shot Gogo Yubari the previous afternoon at Lingfield.

Zminiature was the first of his 25 juveniles to be seen out and the win gives him the enviable position of putting down a marker for the rest of them when getting close to running. I do fear for the South African bookmakers who must have been subjected to a bit of a hammering from this well-touted, over there at least, first-day winner.

Another new partnership on the opening day provided an even more significant, and unexpected, result for the talented David Egan, new first rider for Amo Racing. David had spent some of the weeks leading up to Saturday with a few choice rides and wins in the US for Amo’s boss, football agent Kia Joorabchian, and this first UK winner together since the announcement of their new partnership couldn’t have been better timed for the rider.

The five-year-old Mr Professor, a 33/1 shot, was one of seven Amo horses listed in Alice Haynes’ 2023 team, but they, like so many others, have moved on. Likewise, Alice, who has added the spacious Machell Place to her existing yard around the corner at Cadland stables at the foot of Warren Hill in Newmarket as her numbers increase.

Dominic Ffrench Davis has always been a popular man with his fellow trainers and one who has proved he can succeed over jumps and on the flat. This year will be his 31st with a licence and promises to be his best yet.

When the 2023 book came out, it listed just one Amo horse. In the event, 32 individual horses for the mercurial owner won 16 races, double Dominic’s previous best from 14 years ago. His prizemoney haul of £480k was almost five times his existing record.

Victory in the Lincoln already has Dominic above £80k for the year, a figure he has only three times previously exceeded, with a maximum of just over £100k in 2022. Egan meanwhile cannot wait to partner King Of Steel, still in training as a four-year-old with Roger Varian, for whom he has ridden so many winners.

Having finished second to Auguste Rodin in the Derby, King Of Steel won at Royal Ascot and again on Champions Day there, gaining a first Group 1. Where Kevin Stott did not gel with the owner for whatever reason, the ultra-sharp Egan, whose father John is still riding well into his 50’s when he has time between his bloodstock dealing, will be hoping his relationship with Kia lasts rather longer.

The new season also provided a big welcome back for Silvestre de Sousa, after his ban in the ultra-sensitive world of Hong Kong racing. The triple UK champion returned with a winner on his first ride at Newcastle less than a fortnight ago, and he is up to four after Varian’s Charyn, three times toiling last year in the wake of Paddington, took his chance to win the first turf flat race of the year – a Listed affair – under de Sousa.

Races like the Lockinge were immediately mentioned on his likely agenda and de Sousa, who has ridden off 8st3lb over the past year, is one of those rare creatures that can do light when a top trainer needs one. He will be hard to resist in such circumstances and might even make a play at challenging William Buick and Oisin Murphy for the title.

- TS



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Knebworth puts up winning performance at Doncaster

It was a case of mission accomplished for Knebworth who stuck his head out in game fashion to achieve trainer Richard Hughes’ early-season objective.

The four-year-old was sent off a 6-1 chance for the William Hill NRMB On The Grand National Handicap and was always prominent in the hands of young apprentice Ethan Jones.

The 9-2 favourite Aleezdancer and most notably Woven laid down a stern challenge at the business end of the six-furlong event, but Jones was strong and had a willing partner when he needed him to prevail by a short head from Woven.

Hughes said: “It was a great run and that has been the plan. I gave him a prep on the all-weather to knock the cobwebs off as you can find with sprinters they can be quite fresh after they’ve had a break.

“I wanted to get that freshness off before he went running on soft ground up there and it was an ideal spot for him.

“Ethan claiming the 7lb certainly helps and it was a lovely win. Ethan is doing most things right at the moment, he’s listening and riding well.”

On future plans, Hughes added: “That was our first target and there might be a race back on the all-weather for him Easter weekend as he’s quite good on the all-weather.

“That might be one of the last highly-rated all-weather races because when the summer comes, it’s hard to get a highly-rated all-weather race. He’ll either go there or I’ll wait for another turf race where there is some moisture in the ground.”

The William Hill Epic Boost Novice Stakes has been won by the likes of Maljoom and Fox Champion in the past and produced another likeable winner in the shape of Eve Johnson Houghton’s Balmacara.

Balmacara (left) showed a great attitude to win
Balmacara (left) showed a great attitude to win (Nigel French/PA)

Third on debut behind a subsequent Listed winner and the highly-regarded Kikkuli, the son of New Bay relished the cut under foot to get off the mark at the second attempt at odds of 5-2.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with him and he probably enjoys a bit of juice in the ground, he hits the ground quite hard so I was always keen to get him out early,” said Johnson Houghton.

“He probably wants further and is just a really nice, likeable horse. He definitely wanted soft ground last year but now he’s maturing he might be able to handle better ground better – but he wouldn’t want it very firm.

“It’s our first runner on turf and he wins, so it’s great for all the team and gives us a boost.”

King Of Spain provided a sentimental victory for Gemma Tutty in the Harrison College Your Future Your Choice Handicap as she continued her fine weekend on Town Moor.

King Of Spain ran out a comfortable winner of a 10-furlong event
King Of Spain ran out a comfortable winner of a 10-furlong event (Nigel French/PA)

Tutty saddled Look Back Smiling to win the Spring Mile at the South Yorkshire track on Saturday and she was in the winner’s enclosure again with a half-brother to former stable standard-bearer Mostly Cloudy, with the three-year-old King Of Spain making an impressive turf debut to follow up a recent success on the all-weather.

“He’s a half-brother to Mostly Cloudy who was our star during our first season so he has a lot of sentimental value anyway, but to see him keep progressing is really satisfying.

“We bought him as a yearling and the owners have been really patient. We were really keen to get him on soft ground and up in trip. I knew he would come on from his last run because he felt amazing at home, but I wasn’t expecting him to put the race to bed quite as impressively as he did.

“Looking at his knee action, he was always going to appreciate a bit of juice in the ground, but he has taken a big step forward today.

“I’m really thrilled and most of the owners of Mostly Cloudy have reinvested and it’s wonderful to pay them back for keeping the faith in me. The weekend couldn’t have gone much better really.”

The afternoon was kicked off by husband-and-wife team of Archie Watson and Brodie Hampson combining with Throne Hall (13-2) to win the William Hill Epic Value Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap, while Qitaal (14-1) returned from over 600 days off the track to make a blistering debut for Charlie Johnston in the 10-furlong Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap.



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Lincoln strike sets Egan up perfectly for big year with Amo Racing

David Egan’s new role as retained rider for Amo Racing got off to the best possible start when Mr Professor came home clear in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster, with the jockey hoping it signals the beginning of a fruitful partnership.

Many were surprised when Egan left the relatively secure role of riding the majority of Roger Varian’s string to take up the number one position with Kia Joorabchian’s increasingly prominent operation.

Several leading riders have already gained and lost what is now a high-profile job, but the prospect of riding the likes of King Of Steel, Ornellaia, Bucanero Fuerte and a whole host of expensive juveniles was a tempting one.

Having spent the winter riding abroad, Egan was at the Curragh on Monday to win the first juvenile race of 2023 on Arizona Blaze, and by adding the first major handicap of the season on Dominic Ffrench Davis’ five-year-old it could not have been a better start.

David Egan and trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis (right) with other winning connections
David Egan and trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis (right) with other winning connections (Nigel French/PA)

“It’s a fantastic start to the year. I’m not going to lie, it was a surprise to me how easy he took me into the race at the two-pole,” he said of his 33-1 winner.

“It was an outstanding performance really, I know he was getting plenty of weight from a lot of the runners, but it’s a fantastic performance.

“Doncaster has been a lucky place for me, I obviously won my first Classic here (St Leger on Eldar Eldarov), but the Lincoln is the race every winter that you build towards. I’ve obviously been away, but the Lincoln is that special race that kick-starts the year, so it’s great to win.”

The sole Irish raider for the race was Fozzy Stack’s Chazzesmee, sent off the 5-2 favourite following his easy success in the Irish version last weekend.

“What was going through my head was the Irish Lincolnshire last week, I rode Raadobarg in that and I gave Joey Sheridan a lead all the way to the furlong pole on Chazzesmee and he quickened up by me,” said Egan, who won the Saudi Cup and Juddmonte International with Mishriff when he was retained by Prince Faisal.

“I got into the stalls today and who was next to me! I looked at Joey and he just said ‘same again?’. I knew he was behind me the whole way, but when my lad quickened up, he quickened up really well – and as he has stamina, he was able to sustain that all the way to the line.”

As for taking the Amo job, Egan could well have joined at just the right time.

He went on: “It’s a very exciting year, you dream of getting a job like this and he (Joorabchian) has got such an array of horses, from older horses like King Of Steel to Classic contenders like Bucanero Fuerte.

“And Amo Racing in recent times have been renowned for two-year-olds coming through, they had a lovely one win at the Curragh last week. They are a great team to have a connection with.

“They’ve got ambition to win and be the best, we understand that will take time but they are still relatively new, the purple colours have only been seen in the last five or six years – when I started in racing, Amo Racing wasn’t even a thing.

“To see their progress and for me to land a job of this nature so soon in my career is great and I hope we have a lot of success in the future.”



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Mr Professor has all the right answers in Lincoln

Mr Professor was too clever for the rest with a power-packed display in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster.

Sent off at 33-1, the Dominic Ffrench Davis-trained five-year-old was drawn in stall two but ended up more towards the middle after David Egan – celebrating a big winner so soon after becoming number one rider for owners Amo Racing – asked his mount to quicken a furlong and a half from home.

Lattam was a length and a half back in second, with Navagio two lengths further away in third, but there was never any danger to the winner once he had flown.

Fozzy Stack’s Chazzesmee was the well-backed 5-2 favourite, chasing an unprecedented double after winning the Irish equivalent last weekend, but while he moved with some menace, he could never quite get into it, eventually just being edged out for fourth by Alpha Crucis.

But there was huge disappointment for David Menuisier, with last year’s winner Migration planting himself in the stalls as the gates opened.

Ffrench Davis said: “I think a lot of it has to do with the ground, it’s very tacky and holding and he travelled through it well.

“Two out, he was going supremely well and David didn’t really want to go on as soon as he did, but it’s very hard to make ground up in that sort of ground and he quickened up nicely and kept going.

“We knew he was very fit and would like the ground, so we were hopeful. His draw in stall two didn’t look great, but it worked out well.

“I think he seems a very happy horse now, he had been out to Bahrain before we got him but he prefers to get his toe in. He bolted up at Goodwood one day for us, his form has been solid.

Doncaster Races – Saturday March 23rd
Mr Professor ridden by David Egan winning the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster (Nigel French/PA).

“It’s great to win this, it’s the first big handicap of the year and these are the races you have to aim to win.

“For horses like him, I hope this rain continues, but we’ve plenty of horses who want better ground.

“I suppose we’d have to look at the Spring Cup next but he does have to get his toe in, so the word soft would need to be in the description. He’s obviously well handicapped, so you’d have to have a look at a race like that.

“It’s a fantastic start for David, he won the first two-year-old race at the Curragh last week and we were hoping to win the Brocklesby but that didn’t work out – thankfully, this makes up for it.”

Pulborough trainer Menuisier later announced the retirement of Migration, posting on X: “Migration is now retired, we have to think about the great times we’ve had with him especially Glorious Goodwood, Doncaster and York.

“Thank you Migration for the amazing years we’ve had in your company. Enjoy a well-deserved quiet time.”



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Fallon and Montassib swoop late for Cammidge triumph

Cieren Fallon produced Montassib to perfection in winning the William Hill Cammidge Trophy Stakes at Doncaster.

Content to sit at the back of the field until just over a furlong out, Fallon weaved his way through on the William Haggas-trained 4-1 chance to beat 3-1 joint-favourite Marshman by a neck, with the other market leader Orazio another length and a quarter back.

It did look like Marshman had done enough after hitting the front, but his supporters were sunk by Fallon’s late surge, on a horse who ended last season with victory in the valuable Coral Sprint Trophy at York and is now a Listed winner.

It was Fallon’s first winner since returning from a lengthy injury.

He said: “Last year, he was a frustrating horse for me because I felt I should have won the Ayr Gold Cup on him, but we at least ended the season with a win at York.

“I rode him work the other week and I said to the boss he’d improved again, he’d got quicker. He was such an easy ride today, anyone could have won on him.

“I’m very lucky that I was looked after well at Oaksey House, they’ve spent a lot of hours with me, I took my time as I was off for four and a half months, I didn’t want to come back too soon, I wanted to make sure I was 100 per cent.

“I’ve been back riding out the last three weeks and the boss has put me on some quiet horses to give me some confidence that way. I had a spin yesterday and I feel great, I feel better than ever and I don’t feel like I’ve lost any race-sharpness at all.

“I’m in a really great position, I’m very lucky to be riding horses like this.”

Assistant trainer Maureen Haggas said: “I thought Cieren gave him a lovely ride – it was a bit testing about a furlong out, but he got there.

“He was a talented two-year-old, then early the following year he had a problem with his heart, so he had the whole year off.

“He’s really done nothing but improve since then, he got his act together at the end of last year and he’s carrying on now. I think he needs a bit of cut to be seen at his best.

“We thought he was quite big today, as he had a good blow in his work, but he doesn’t look like he’s had much of a race today.

“He’s a lovely horse, one of those lovely people, so straightforward.”



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Tutty left Smiling after Spring Mile success

The mercurial Look Back Smiling provided Gemma Tutty with the biggest success of her training career when winning the William Hill Epic Boost Spring Mile at Doncaster.

Bought out of Ed Dunlop’s stable by Nick Bradley for what now looks a snip at £10,000, the four-year-old was defying a career-high mark of 83.

A winner in heavy ground at Town Moor last October, he had conditions to suit once more and was delivered perfectly by 5lb claimer Brandon Wilkie.

The only worry was that under pressure he drifted into Jamie Spencer on the 5-1 favourite Thunder Roar, bidding to give Tony Coyle and Kaine Wood a first winner since the start of their new joint venture. The stewards left the original result alone, though.

Tutty said of the 17-2 winner: “As you could see in the final furlong, he’s not the most straightforward and he doesn’t make life easy for his jockeys.

“That’s another fantastic run at this track though, so we’re going to have to look at coming back here.

“He doesn’t do a stroke at home. In his work, we put the least experienced jockeys on him and just play catch me if you can, then he just keeps going and going.”

Gemma Tutty, trainer
Gemma Tutty, trainer (PA)

She went on: “He won three races last year, but I suppose in racing like he does, it’s protected him from the handicapper. It’s just a shame he needs the ground this soft because some of those big handicaps in the summer would be perfect for him.

“We’ve had a really good start to the year, we’ve targeted the All-Weather Championships, so we’ve had more runners than we’d normally have and they’ve been running well, but you can’t have a better start to the turf season than this.

“It’s my biggest win, I suppose, we’ve got about 20 horses in and the staff have worked so hard all winter, the staff have been up and down that motorway all winter, so I can’t thank them enough.

“Nick Bradley has a few horses with me now, so it’s nice to repay the faith he has shown in me.”

Moon Over Miami and Hector Crouch return
Moon Over Miami and Hector Crouch return (Nick Robson/PA)

Two nice types for the future pulled well clear in the William Hill Epic Value Maiden Stakes, with the previously unraced Moon Over Miami coming out on top in a protracted duel with firm favourite Harper’s Ferry.

Sent off a 10-1 chance, Ralph Beckett was on hand to welcome back the gelded three-year-old, who found plenty for Hector Crouch despite showing signs of inexperience.

“He’s a nice horse but he’s just really immature,” said Beckett.

“We didn’t do much with him last year, as we just didn’t think he was ready to run. We gelded him and put him away.

“He’s a horse who should get two miles on pedigree but he’s quite hard on himself, so he won’t be out quickly.”



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Zminiature claims big Brocklesby win for Cunha

Dylan Cunha put a feather in the cap of his training career in Britain as Zminiature landed the William Hill EBF Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster.

Traditionally the curtain-raiser for the Flat season, this time the juvenile contest – won 12 months ago by Persian Force, who went on to prove very smart – was the second race on the Town Moor card.

A Group One-winning handler in his native South Africa, Cunha is now based in Newmarket, and in this 16-1 winner he looks to have a nice colt on his hands.

Given a patient ride by Rhys Clutterbuck, the Territories youngster moved smoothly through runners to pick up long-timer leader Paddy’s Courage inside the final furlong, before keeping on nicely to hold Bob The Bandit and Indication Ember by a length and a short head.

Cunha said: “It was expected. We really fancied him. He’s small but he’s tough and does everything right. It’s nice to get a good early two-year-old winner.

“I said to the owners halfway through the race ‘it’s been a great experience, he’s learning to race’, as it looked like he was going to be fourth or fifth.

“We took him to Chelmsford for a gallop last Monday, we did all the work that needed to be done.

“I’ve got to thank the Sarkar family, they were the first owners in the UK to support me, so to pay them back with a Brocklesby winner is massive.

“His name is Zminiature because he’s tiny, he’s only up to my chest!

“We started with three horses 18 months ago but we’re up to 50 now, 25 of those are two-year-olds. It’s been hard work, 18-hour days, but I’ve got to thank the team at home, I just conduct it all.

“There’s a conditions race at Chester and a Listed race at Sandown, then after that we’ll take stock.

“I’m pleased for Rhys, I don’t think he gets the opportunities he deserves but he’s quite softly spoken and in this game you’ve got to make a bit of noise and talk yourself into jobs, but it meant I was able to get him. He’s a great jockey, I love him.”



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De Sousa gets off to flying start on classy Charyn

Silvestre de Sousa made the best possible start to the new turf season when teaming up with Roger Varian’s Charyn to win the William Hill Doncaster Mile.

The former champion jockey has only recently returned from a 10-month suspension picked up in Hong Kong for breaching betting rules.

De Sousa, 43, has been getting his eye in on the all-weather recently but will have been thrilled to pick up the first Listed race of the season on the Group One-placed Charyn.

Last year’s winner Astral Beau made another bold bid for Pam Sly but she had no answer close home to the 2-1 winner, who streaked three and a half lengths clear under hands and heels riding.

“He’s a lovely horse, he just felt a little bit lazy out there,” said De Sousa.

“He’s ended up picking up really well. There wasn’t much of a pace, so I just rode the race to suit him.”

With David Egan taking up his role with Amo Racing this season, Varian will be employing a new team of jockeys, with De Sousa in line to pick up plenty, along with James Doyle.

“That was a nice start to the season. Last year, he put up some really good efforts in the Irish Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes against some top opposition,” said Varian.

Charyn and Silvestre De Sousa return
Charyn and Silvestre De Sousa return (Nigel French/PA)

“He was a Group Two-winning two-year-old, he’s always been a nice horse and had some big questions asked of him last year, hopefully this can be his year.

“He looks to have done well through the winter, he’s a stronger horse this year and we were always keen to come here just to try and get a win on the board and build him back up again.

“I was worried about the ground, as while he has run some good races on testing ground, he’s at his best on a sounder surface. I think he’ll go on any ground.

“I’d like to go to Sandown for the Group Two (Bet365 Mile) and then the Lockinge.”

On the jockey situation, Varian added: “We’re in a good position. Some of our owners have their own jockeys, James Doyle is going to ride quite a few for us when available.

“Silvestre has been in riding work, I’ve got Jack Mitchell to call upon, Cam Noble, Raul de Silva, Aiden Keeley, so I’ve got a good team and they are all in every morning putting in the work, so hopefully they’ll all get opportunities.

“Silvestre is a good jockey, we like him a lot, we’ve known him a long time.”



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Chazzesmee chasing unprecedented Lincoln double

Chazzesmee is out to complete an historic double in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday.

Just five days after plundering the €100,000 Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh, the six-year-old is sent back into battle by trainer Fozzy Stack for the British Flat season’s traditional curtain-raiser.

Sweet Lightning is the only horse to have won both races, scoring at Doncaster in 2011 when trained by Michael Dods before striking gold the Irish equivalent in 2013 for Tommy Carmody.

Not only is Chazzesmee looking to become the first to win the two prestigious handicaps in the same season, but he also bids to become the first Irish-trained winner of the Lincoln on Town Moor since Dermot Weld’s Saving Mercy 40 years ago.

“It’s kind of a shot to nothing, he’ll either be there or thereabouts or they’ll be sending out a search party for him,” said Stack.

“It’s hard to know with the short turnaround, but it’s a good pot, so it’s worth a chance.

“He’s always been a horse that has had plenty of talent, he’s just been a bit unfortunate through his life.

“He handles soft ground, obviously, so we’ll see what happens.”

One of the chief hopes for the home team is Karl Burke’s Liberty Lane, a narrow winner over the course and distance in September before failing to fire in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket a fortnight later.

Karl Burke saddles Liberty Lane in the Lincoln
Karl Burke saddles Liberty Lane in the Lincoln (Mike Egerton/PA)

Burke is looking forward to stepping the four-year-old up in trip later in the year, but is happy to start off over the straight mile on testing conditions.

“A mile is the minimum trip for him, he should be staying a mile and a quarter, but you need that (stamina) for that type of race,” said the Spigot Lodge handler.

“If he can keep tabs on the leaders, he loves that soft ground and fingers crossed he can run a big race, but we’re going there hopeful rather than confident.

“I think I’d rather be drawn high (stall 20) than low and I think they’ll probably arrowhead up the middle. Most of the fancied horses are drawn low, so it will be interesting.”

Charlie Johnston fields two contenders, with Qipco Champions Day winner The Gatekeeper joined by stablemate Dutch Decoy.

The Gatekeeper winning at Ascot
The Gatekeeper winning at Ascot (John Walton/PA)

The Gatekeeper has not been seen in competitive action since his lucrative Balmoral Handicap victory at Ascot in October, while Dutch Decoy makes his first appearance since finishing a close-up sixth in the Cambridgeshire.

Johnston said: “The Gatekeeper is in very, very good shape, I couldn’t be happier with him in that regard. He’s proven with some cut in the ground and goes well fresh, so he’s got lots in his favour.

“Life’s going to be a bit tougher for him as he’s rated 100 now. The handicapper rightly didn’t miss him for his Balmoral win, but that’s the only negative I think. Other than that he’s got all conditions in his favour. He’s a solid contender and this has been the target for a long time.

“If there’s any ambition for this season, one is that Dutch Decoy gets his day in the sunshine because he’s often been the bridesmaid and he’s been a real stalwart with us in the top handicaps, but generally running well in defeat.

“He was just behind The Gatekeeper in the Golden Mile at Goodwood last summer on soft ground, so he has got some soft ground form, but generally I don’t think he would want the extremes and I think he’s a little bit better on slightly better ground.

“That would be a slight concern with him, but he’s fit and well and there’s not a lot else for him for a while, so we thought we’d take our chance.”

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Awaal, the Julie Camacho-trained Lattam and Jack Channon’s 2022 Lincoln hero Johan also feature in a fiercely-competitive field.

Channon said: “He’s just a very good horse and 100 per cent a great servant. He’s not got any black type but he’s a black-type horse. Those big-field mile races just seem to really suit his running style.

“He’s won two big ones already and hopefully he can add another to that.”



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Boughey hoping Doncaster proves home from home for Baradar

George Boughey’s Baradar bids to start his season on the right note when he lines up at his favourite track for the William Hill Cammidge Trophy Stakes.

The six-year-old was twice a winner last term, taking a Doncaster handicap over a slightly longer trip at the peak of his form in the autumn.

His Town Moor form in general is impressive, and he was a good third on heavy ground in the Lincoln at this meeting last year.

Now dropping back in trip to six furlongs, Boughey is hopeful he will relish a return to his favoured course at Listed level.

“Baradar was good back at six and a half furlongs at Doncaster in the autumn, before probably just finding it one too many runs at Ascot at the end of last year,” he said.

Baradar at Ascot last year
Baradar at Ascot last year (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him at six (furlongs) for the first time. He loves it at Doncaster, he’s done lots of work and is very straight. He’s in a super shape, he’s an absolute legend.

“In four runs at Doncaster he’s won twice, been 1-3 in the Lincoln in-running and placed in the Futurity Trophy.

“It’s his first run in stakes company for a long time and he goes there with a good chance.”

Nick Bradley Racing have three chances in the race, chief among them being the Karl Burke-trained Marshman.

Second in the Gimcrack as a two-year-old, the bay started his season well when winning the Prix Sigy on debut last year and was then fifth in the Duke of York when beaten three lengths.

He was subsequently a close third in the Prix du Gros-Chene, before finishing unplaced in both the King’s Stand and the Coral Charge.

The latter three runs were over five furlongs, and the talented colt will now step back up to six as he wears a tongue tie for the first time.

Burke said: “He’s a nice horse, I’m not sure he wants the ground as testing as it’s going to be but he’s in good form.

“It’s his first run of the year obviously and he’ll come on for it, but hopefully he’ll run very well.”

Bradley added: “He came back from Sandown with a pelvic injury last year but he’d started the season off well when winning the Prix Sigy.

“If we were selecting what ground we’d want we’d choose good ground, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were a little bit fresh.

“As a two-year-old he wasn’t a tearaway but he wasn’t far off, we’re excited to get him back on the track.

“We’ve got three in the race and we hope to come home in the first three.”

Bradley’s other two chances are both trained by Grant Tuer, the four-year-old fillies Sophia’s Starlight and Glorious Angel.

William Haggas will saddle Montassib, a six-year-old who was fifth in the Ayr Gold Cup last term before winning the Coral Sprint Trophy at York.

“He was a bit unfortunate at Ayr, he had been running over seven furlongs for a while and I dropped him back in trip for the Ayr Gold Cup and they went fast and he came home well,” said the trainer.

“He finished well at York when he won as well.

“I think this is his trip and I think he likes the cut in the ground and he will be as fit as we can have him.

“Most of the Exceed And Excels we have had have wanted fast ground, but we think he definitely doesn’t. Maybe it’s because he has got hold and prefers a bit of dig in the ground, but he definitely wants cut.

“He always runs a good race, but he has never run off 108 before. Handicaps are now a bit out for him and it’s races like this and the Abernant Stakes and see where we are.”

Charlie Hills’ Orazio and Rod Millman’s Adaay In Devon complete the field of seven.



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Doncaster Mile opportunity for classy Charyn

There will be no Paddington standing in Charyn’s way when he returns to action in the William Hill Doncaster Mile on Saturday.

Roger Varian’s four-year-old proved the most consistent of performers during his Classic season but had the misfortune of bumping into Aidan O’Brien’s now retired leading miler on three occasions at Group One level last term.

The son of Dark Angel is the top-rated for his seasonal reappearance in slower ground than his handler would prefer, but nevertheless the Carlburg Stables handler is excited to see how the colt performs now with plenty of big-race experience under his belt.

Charyn (right) bumped into Paddington on numerous occasions in 2023
Charyn (right) bumped into Paddington on numerous occasions in 2023 (John Walton/PA)

“He had a good year last year and it was a shame he drew a blank in terms of wins, but he put up some fine performances,” said Varian.

“The Irish 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes spring to mind as pretty solid performances against top company.

“We’re looking forward to him this year and he’s training nicely. He looks like he’s matured a bit more and we’re going to get his season started on Saturday.

“He’s top-rated and closely matched to Knight on a couple of his runs last year, but it will be tough ground on Saturday, it’s going to be heavy and not ideal ground. I think he’s better on better ground, but he’s ready to get started and it has been the plan to come here, so we can’t do anything about the ground on this occasion.”

Knight has some smart form to his name
Knight has some smart form to his name (Neil Morrice/PA)

Charyn was last seen finishing third in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, a race where chief market rival Knight was a place ahead in second.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s four-year-old would go on to be beaten a head at Sandown in the Fortune Stakes before finishing well held on his final outing of the year, but the gelding now returns with a first-time visor fitted and with hopes of rediscovering his best form.

Karl Burke’s Holloway Boy has been off the track since finishing a length and a half fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and was an honourable third behind Auguste Rodin in his only previous visit to Town Moor as a two-year-old.

Burke said: “He’s ready for a run, he’s got very lazy since he’s been gelded and there’s very few races for him until we get into May and June, so I’d say he’ll need a run to be honest.

“He’s well in himself, but his work is very lazy at home.”

Astral Beau winning at Doncaster in 2023
Astral Beau winning at Doncaster in 2023 (Nigel French/PA)

Meanwhile, Pam Sly is hoping to put weather woes behind her as Astral Beau defends the title she claimed in good style last season.

The wet winter has restricted use of the gallops at Sly’s Cambridgeshire base, but the handler feels she has managed to get just enough work into her five-year-old to seek another spot on the podium.

“It should be wet, which will be ideal for her,” said Sly.

“We’re just having a job getting them fit because we’ve been waterlogged for so long. I think we’re nearly there and hopefully she will run all right and if she gets in the first three I will be pleased.

“We’ve had a few offers for her, but we thought we would keep her for another year for a bit of fun.

“There aren’t really any other races for her until May. Last year we went from Doncaster to the Dahlia Stakes and I think we may end up doing the same this season.

“You never know until you run them whether they have trained on or not do you really, but she seems good – there’s nothing wrong with her.”

Ralph Beckett’s Heron Stakes runner-up Grey’s Monument produced arguably a career best to scoop Listed honours at Kempton in December, while David O’Meara’s new recruit Padishakh and William Stone’s Dashing Roger complete the field of seven.



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De Sousa teams up with Johan in search of Lincoln repeat

Silvestre De Sousa returns to the big stage in Britain as Johan bids for more success in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster.

Jack Channon’s seven-year-old won the season-opening showpiece back in 2022 – when he was trained by the handler’s father Mick – and will have what appears optimum conditions on Town Moor as he attempts a repeat.

De Sousa was in the saddle for that 2022 success and after a spell in Hong Kong blighted by a 10-month suspension, the three-times British champion jockey is set for his biggest mount since his UK comeback earlier this month.

“James Doyle rode him when he won (at Goodwood) last year but with him not being back, it was an obvious choice for me,” said Channon on De Sousa’s return to the saddle.

“Silvestre got on well with him the year before and it’s nice to have someone who knows the horse. He’s very straightforward, but it’s still nice to have someone who knows him.

“We know he handles cut in the ground and I think if we get a couple of dry days that will be ideal for him, just soft, good to soft will be absolutely ideal for him, but we know he handles it really soft as well so ground shouldn’t be a problem for him.”

Defending champion Migration will head to Town Moor for the Lincoln
Defending champion Migration will head to Town Moor for the Lincoln (Nigel French/PA)

A full field of 22 will head to post for the one-mile event that starts the Flat turf season and Johan is joined by defending champion Migration towards the top of the weights.

Last year’s runner-up Awaal is amongst the market leaders for Simon and Ed Crisford, while Chazzesmee is an interesting runner for Fozzy Stack having landed the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on Monday and will be attempting the double under a 5lb penalty for that success.

Fellow Irish challenger Blues Emperor was a narrow second in the Irish Cambridgeshire on his penultimate start and represents Johnny Murtagh, with Karl Burke’s track-and-trip winner Liberty Lane and Charlie Johnston’s Balmoral winner The Gatekeeper other names of note.

Irish Lincolnshire third Raadobarg and John and Thady Gosden’s Mostabshir, were the key names not declared on Thursday morning for the £150,000 event.



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Migration seeking to recapture sparkle in Lincoln

David Menuisier is keeping his fingers crossed that Migration can recapture his old sparkle when bidding for back-to-back wins in the Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday.

The veteran gelding finished strongly up the stands’ rail to storm past well-fancied duo Awaal and Baradar 12 months ago, scoring at 18-1.

He struggled to reproduce that form thereafter, trailing in well beaten on three subsequent outings, but they were all hot contests.

Migration stepped up to Group Three company in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown, had to carry over 10st in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot and signed off his season in a Listed contest at Saint-Cloud.

The handicapper has thrown him a lifeline by dropping his mark to 4lb above last year’s Lincoln triumph and Menuisier is hoping the fire still burns as brightly at the age of eight.

“Obviously, it’s a hard task but he is well, we know he likes the course and he likes to run fresh and he always runs well at this time of the year, so fingers crossed that the stars can align again,” said the trainer.

“He kind of lost his form late on last season, so it’s hard to predict what’s happening with those older horses.

“He stayed in the yard all winter, I didn’t give him a holiday this time around because he had a long break last summer, so we tried to keep him up to his work a bit more.

“We’ll see if it makes a difference. The ground will probably be very similar and maybe we just need a bit of luck.”

Doncaster Races – Saturday April 1st
Migration and connections after last year’s Lincoln (Nigel French/PA).

Awaal is the ante-post favourite to go one better this term after 56 entries stood their ground for the one-mile contest.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s five-year-old is back on the same mark after also going on to be placed in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and Newmarket’s Bunbury Cup before faltering in the second half of the season.

September course and distance winner Liberty Lane is also prominent in the betting for Karl Burke after being gelded over the winter.

John and Thady Gosden will seek to strike for the second time in four years via Mostabshir, while Jack Channon will bid to match the exploits of his father Mick with 2022 hero Johan.

“Awaal had to settle for second place behind Migration 12 months ago but Simon and Ed Crisford’s runner is being well backed to go one place better this time in the opening major handicap of the Flat season,” said Coral’s John Hill.

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield added: “Last year’s runner-up Awaal, who has been our best-backed horse ante post, remains in the reckoning at the five-day stage and sits proudly at the front of the market as favourite for the Flat turf season’s traditional pipe-opener.”



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