Doncaster Saturday

William Hill Lincoln Handicap

MR Professor (Dominic Ffrench-Davis/David Egan) provided a 33/1 surprise in the William Hill Lincoln Handicap, the traditional curtain-raiser of the turf flat season.

The five-year-old was drawn in stall two, but while that didn’t fill his trainer with confidence, events on the day suggested that those drawn low to middle were favoured, as were the hold-up horses, on a day where a stiff headwind hampered those on the pace.

The winner always travelled well on the tacky ground, quickened to lead over a furlong out before comfortably holding the late challenge of Lattam (Julie Camacho/Ryan Sexton) by a length and a half.

Navagio and Alpha Crucis filled the minor places, with Fozzy Stack’s Irish Lincoln winner Chazzesme fifth having been heavily backed on the day. The 2023 winner Migration was in no mood to race and has been retired after failing to emerge from the stalls.

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. 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.

Charyn shines

Not many of the runners in the Listed Doncaster Mile seemed to enjoy the conditions, with the race rather falling apart after halfway.

With two furlongs to run, only last year’s winner Charyn (Roger Varian/Silvestre de Sousa) and Astral Beau were on the bridle, and it was the latter – placed in the St James’s Palace and Sussex Stakes as a three-year-old – who came home the stronger to score by three and a half lengths.

“Charyn was a Group 2-winning two-year-old and has always been a good horse,” said Roger Varian. “He had some big questions asked of him last year and I hope this could be his year. He looks to have done well through the winter and is a bigger, stronger horse this year.

“We were always keen to come here, drop a level and get a win on the board then build him back up again. I’d like to go to Sandown for the Bet365 Mile and then the Lockinge.”

Montassib reinvented

The Listed Cammidge Trophy produced an exciting finish, with the William Haggas-trained Montassib (Cieren Fallon) bursting through from the rear of the field to beat long-time leader Marshman (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee) by a neck.

The winner has spent most of his career running over 7f/1m but looks an improved performer for the drop back to sprinting on his last few starts, looking unlucky in the Ayr Gold Cup before winning at York in October.

He looked better than ever here, forced to wait for a gap from the two-furlong pole but scything into the lead when getting room, and was value for more than the winning margin.

He’s likely to step up to Group 2 company in the Duke of York Stakes, although Newmarket’s Group 3 Abernant Stakes at the Craven meeting is another possibility for the six-year-old.

Newbury Saturday

Glory for Jonjo in Mares’ Grade 2

THE Grade 2 EBF Mares’ Handicap was the key even at Newbury on Saturday, albeit sans its usual “Finale” suffix, and the race was typically competitive, with a field of 17 going to post for the £52,500 contest.

The race looked open at the penultimate flight but All The Glory (Jonjo O’Neill/Jonjo Jr) appeared to be travelling very well.

After leading shortly after the last, she cleared away impressively for a nine-length win over Alfie’s Princes (Sam Thomas/Lorcan Williams), with Ooh Betty (Ben Clarke/Joe Anderson) back third, finishing another three and a quarter lengths away.

The winner, returned at 16/1, provided Jonjo O’Neill with his third winner in the contest after Ar Muin Na Muice (2003) and Annie Mc (2019).

Richest race on the Newbury card was the Goffs Spring Sales Bumper, with the early-closing contest worth £59,000 to the winner.

The win went to the Paul Nicholls-trained Regent’s Stroll (Harry Cobden). The 7/2 joint-favourite led early but got outpaced after being headed in the home straight, and had to show stamina in abundance to regain the advantage a furlong out.

He was very strong at the finish, putting five lengths between himself and Don’t Mind If I Do (Alan King/Tom Cannon) at the line.

The winner is by Walk In The Park out of Pretty Puttens, an unraced half-sister to Denman, and therefore a full-brother to the chaser Are U Wise To That and half-brother to hurdler Didtheyleaveuoutto. He looks a stayer as his pedigree suggests; he should be noted over hurdles.

Around the tracks

Crawford winner

ALSO on that Newbury card, there was a winner for Stuart Crawford as 22/1 shot I Love My Baie took the novices’ handicap hurdle under J.J. Slevin, while Tony Martin went close to a winner at Ascot on Saturday when Zanndabad (Sean Bowen) quickened to lead at the last in the two miles, three and a half furlong maiden hurdle only to be outstayed in the closing stages having traded 1/20 in the run.

He’s the sort to pick up a good handicap back at two miles, with Haydock’s Swinton Hurdle a tempting opportunity back on British soil.