Doncaster's Lincoln meeting, the habitual Flat season curtain-raiser, is finally upon us and that is where Timeform's Matt Gardner heads for Saturday's crack at the Placepot...
"The way Jack's Revenge travelled that day suggested that a bigger performance would be forthcoming at some stage this season, particularly with today's distance of a mile appearing to suit ideally, and he could just sneak under the radar of a few..."
13:20 - Plenty are likely to be taken in by King Of Jazz, who finished third in this contest last year off a 9 lb higher mark, but he lost his way markedly throughout the season, showing signs of temperament on occasion, so we aren't too keen to side with him in the Placepot. Instead we will take Ancient Cross, who ended last season in good form and appeals as being on a fair mark, the David Barron-trained Colonel Mak, who scored twice last term and has returned to a workable mark and Jamaican Bolt, who admittedly has done most of his racing at five furlongs but stuck to his task well on his final start of 2012 and has the bonus of William Twiston-Davies' handy 5 lb claim.
13:55 - Trainer Ismail Mohammed has been in excellent form since the turn of the year, with six of the eight horses he has sent out returning triumphant, and there is every chance that his representative in the Spring Mile, Educate, could add further to the tally. The four-year-old was firmly on the up towards the end of last year, landing handicaps at both Sandown and York, and, with his strong-travelling style being ideally suited to a race of this ilk, he seems certain to go well. It is also worth including Frog Hollow, who is less exposed than the majority of his rivals in this field and ought to be sharper for his recent return on the all-weather, which also represented his debut for this yard.
14:30 - Jack Dexter, who rapidly developed into a smart performer last year, very nearly went in as a banker here but I've erred on the side of caution by also including Our Jonathan, who boasts a fair record when fresh and will have no concerns over the ground. Jack Dexter flopped on his first attempt at this level, on his final start of last year, but the suspicion is that it may have just been one run too many for the season and he could well take this event on his way to greater things.
15:05 - We're going to shun the head of the market with our selections in the Lincoln in the hope of a coup, although whether last year's victor Brae Hill should be quite the price that he is (19.5), given that he has returned to the mark he was successful from 12 months ago, is debatable. Admittedly he ran poorly on his final two starts of last term but a break over the winter will have done him the world of good and the Richard Fahey yard is in flying form at present, so everything points to a bold showing. Jack's Revenge enhanced his healthy strike rate when landing handicaps at Windsor and Newmarket last year but he produced a career-best when finishing runner-up to Tartiflette on his final outing. The way he travelled that day suggested that a bigger performance would be forthcoming at some stage this season, particularly with today's distance of a mile appearing to suit ideally, and he could just sneak under the radar of a few this afternoon.
15:40 - The John Gosden-trained Space Ship, who showed promise in all three starts as a juvenile last term, is the type to thrive as a three-year-old and, although a fairly obvious selection, given the competitiveness of the earlier races we are quite happy to side with him. It's also worth sticking in Moves Like Jagger, who cost 100,000 gns as a yearling and is a half-brother to mile and a half winner Yazdi, on debut for Michael Bell, who is more than capable of readying one for its first start.
16:15 - The Declan Carroll-trained Prophesy has been fairly weak in the market this morning so we will instead take both Amaze and Snow Trooper as we attempt to close out what will hopefully have been a successful Placepot. The first mentioned sprang something of a shock when beating Stencive at Ripon on his first start of last year but he showed that to be no fluke by improving at both Haydock and Ayr later in the season; a mark of 85 looks fair and his yard are in cracking form. Snow Trooper is capable when fresh, is a fairly consistent performer and is another that looks to be on a workable mark, so he appeals as being an ideal back-up selection.
13:20 - 3, 4, 5
13:55 - 5, 7
14:30 - 5, 6
15:05 - 7, 19
15:40 - 5, 6
16:15 - 1, 8
= 96 lines