The Spring Mile and Cammidge Trophy are just two of the races under the spotlight
The flat is back, whether you like it or not, and it dominates proceedings this afternoon with Doncaster, Kempton and Meydan providing a televised triple bill.
I’ve covered Doncaster’s feature Lincoln Handicap and the Dubai World Cup meeting elsewhere on this site, so I’m going to concentrate on the domestic supporting races here along with a caveat. Clearly, at this early stage of the season we’re having to guess in the relative fitness on the majority of the runners, while others will have improved over the winter and last year’s form could be turned on its head.
That said, there are good reasons for thinking TULLIUS can outclass his rivals in the Doncaster Mile (2.05pm). Andrew Balding’s gelding has a terrific record fresh – form figures of 111024 after an absence of 100 days or more – and hit the ground running at this meeting 12 months ago when finishing second in the Lincoln. I doubt he’ll be much of a price, though.
The new season officially gets under way with the running of the Brocklesby Stakes (1.25pm) and it’s a surprise that only nine have been declared – I can’t remember such a small field for this traditional curtain raiser. Cock Of The North beat 16 rivals in last year’s race when yet another favourite (Entrancing 9/2) bit the dust. Indeed, the last winning market leader to oblige was Mister Hardy in 2007 and he wasn’t even clear favourite. That doesn’t bode well for the forecast jolly Just That Lord, although his trainer Bill Turner knows what it takes to win this having captured it six times since 1996. However, I’ll take a punt on last year’s winning trainer Scott Dixon having RUPERT BOY ready to rock and roll, with the bet doubled if the market speaks in his favour.
They’re calling the ground “good” and with no rain forecast, I’m not sure conditions are going to suit confirmed mudlarks Jack Dexter and Aetna in the Cammidge Trophy (2.35pm). Kevin Ryan’s ASTAIRE is less ground dependant and he’s the best of these on official ratings, with his Group 1 Middle Park victory as a juvenile (unpenalised for that here) and last season’s Golden Jubilee sixth his standout pieces of form. If he’s fit enough to do himself justice (the betting will be the best clue there), he must take all the beating.
Aside from the Lincoln, the meeting’s other big betting race is the Spring Mile (3.10pm), run over the straight course. It’s an impossible-looking race with bookmakers betting 6/1 the field, but I for one like a crack at these big-field handicaps as the reward for finding the winner is so great. I’ve vowed to make David O’Meara one of my go-to trainers this season and the Yorkshire trainer runs a likely sort in KING TORUS, who looks to be on a fair mark (88) for his seasonal return and won first time up last season. The seven-year-old has won at the track and over the distance (albeit on the round course) and the drying ground is definitely in his favour. The early 16/1 has been hoovered up, but he’s still a smidgeon of value at 10/1.
Charlie Appleby has been firing in the winners left right and centre on the all-weather over the winter, and his NEW YEAR’S NIGHT is fancied to complete a hat-trick in the feature 1m3f Roseberry Handicap at Kempton (2.50pm). The four-year-old came good at Wolverhampton in December and is clearly still improving judged on his latest success over a furlong further at Lingfield. His come-from-behind style of running means he never wins by far and that has allowed him to stay one step ahead of the handicapper, who has raised him just 3lb to a new mark of 88. He’s probably capable of winning off a mark in the mid-90s and with his nearest rival in the betting, Rebellious Guest, having been beaten on both his attempt beyond 1m2f, he looks a worthy favourite.
Doncaster 1.25, Rupert Boy @ best morning-line price
Doncaster 2.05, Tullius @ best morning-line price
Doncaster 2.35, Astaire @ 3/1 William Hill
Kempton 2.50, New Year’s Night @ 7/2 BetVictor
Doncaster 3.10, King Torus each-way @ 10/1 bet365