As the temperature gets warmer, the days get longer and the racing calendar goes into overdrive.
These are three reasons that will put a smile on any racing fans’ face.
Not only do we have the Grand National meeting at Aintree just a couple weeks away, we also have the Punchestown Festival at the end of next month and the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse next week.
Preceding all of them is the traditional curtain raiser of the Flat season, The Betway Lincoln meeting at Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday.
Doncaster traditionally hosts the start of the British turf Flat racing season at its Town Moor venue with the feature race The Betway Lincoln Heritage Handicap forming the first part of the punting orientated ‘Spring Double’ with the second part being The Grand National.
An ultra-competitive Class 2 handicap run over a mile of fresh ground has attracted a massive 93 entrants, which must be whittled down to a maximum field of 22 runners, although many of the entrants who miss out will run in the consolation race, The Betway Spring Mile on the same card.
Yorkshire racing looks set to come out of its winter slump with a flurry of entries from its top yards as they aim to hit the Flat season running and claim the valuable and prestigious first prize.
Richard Fahey rates the race as a great way to launch a successful season and is mob handed with three live chances in the shape of Gabrial, Gabrial’s Kaka and Spirit of The Law.
The Malton trainer said: “The Lincoln is always a very competitive race, but it would be great to win it again as a launch-pad for our turf campaign.”
After a fruitless Cheltenham Festival, Norton handler Brian Ellison would love nothing more than to kick-start the Flat season with a big race victory and he has a live chance in the shape of four-time winner Baraweez.
Baraweez is very versatile regarding underfoot conditions having won in both soft and good to firm last season when making epic strides for his master trainer.
David O’Meara makes four entries from his Nawton stables and he could hold the key in a race that he has so far eluded him.
Robert The Painter, Mondialiste, King Torus and the grand old servant Penitent are all entered up, but with Penitent and King Torus holding other engagements on the card and Robert The Painter not certain of a run the one to focus on is French import Mondialiste.
This five-year-old son of Galileo has thrived since joining the yard and they have had this race as the target for some time as the start of what could be a very successful season.
Mondialiste starts life in handicaps off a mark of 105 and I would be very surprised if he isn’t rated a lot higher after competing in group races at the end of the season.
He is currently 20/1 at the time of going to print but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see him go off in single figures as a trademark O’Meara gamble takes place.
Top weight for the race will be the two time Cambridgshire winner Bronze Angel trained by Marcus Tregoning, who will have to put up an almighty display to shoulder 9st 11lb to victory, while last year’s winner Ocean Tempest will not have life much easier off 9st 10lb as he looks to give John Ryan back-to-back victories.
The gamble of the race is the current favourite Mange All, who was available at double figure odds last weekend but is currently trading at the 9/2 mark as his trainer William Haggas seeks a fourth victory in the race.
Top Newmarket trainers John Gosden (GM Hopkins) Marco Botti (Moohaarhib) and Ed Dunlop (Zarwaan) are also represented.
Controversy is never far from racing and this week was no different as the GBR (Great British Racing) announced plans of the new format for the upcoming Flat season jockeys title.
This will now run from the Guineas meeting in May to Champions Day at Ascot on October 17 instead of running from the usual aforementioned Lincoln meeting in March to Doncaster’s final meeting in November.
Outspoken trainer Mark Johnston vented his fury at the new plans in a move which is likely to encourage the top jockeys to ride abroad for longer each year and therefore reducing the appeal for racing fans in Britain.
“You can now brace yourself for the departure of our top jockeys, to sunnier, more lucrative, climes in early October,” warned an incredulous Johnston.
“They may or may not return for the Craven meeting (the Guineas trials in mid-April at Newmarket), but you can take it that the majority will only ride in Britain for six months of the year.
“Another great idea from the folks at ‘Racing For No Change.”
It really does seem a ridiculous and not very well thought out plan from the GBR, who should take a leap-out of most Yorkshire folk’s books and realise that change is not always a good thing.
Mondialiste, Lincoln Handicap, 3.45, Saturday, Doncaster, 16/1