British Flat Turf Season Gets Underway at Doncaster

March 23, 2024

Mr Professor schools the field in the Lincoln (JTW Equine Images)

By JTW Equine Images

If you have just been given, over the winter, one of the most scrutinised jobs in the business, you would want that to go well, on the first day of the season, right? Think Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United, Erling Haaland’s debut games for Manchester City, or indeed Ryan Moore’s position at Ballydoyle? For David Egan, the expectation was there, and he silenced any critics of his decision to take up the role as stable jockey to football agent Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing Limited, by winning the first major handicap of the British Flat Turf season, as he guided Mr Professor to success in the William Hill Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster Racecourse for trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis.

The five-year-old Profitable gelding was drawn low, but as David was to confirm later, natural factors would play right into his hands. The early stages of the race saw the field split into two, as Blues Emperor and Hieronymus led the field. There was early drama, however, as last year’s winner Migration simply refused to race, so the double was off the cards almost immediately. 5 furlongs out One Night Thunder made a forward move as the field converged. 2 furlongs out The Gatekeeper made a move, however, this quickly faded in the soft ground. All the way up the straight at Town Moor in the mile contest, the winner was well positioned on the wing of the field, and when push came to shove, Mr Professor cruised into the lead, and although somewhat drifting to the near rail, he was always in command, for a stylish victory, beating Lattam into second, Navagio in third and Alpha Crucis in fourth.

Via @AtTheRaces on Twitter/X

Jockey David Egan was full of praise for his mount, quoting as saying “It was a big day for the owner (England vs Brazil football match), but this is what dreams are made of. We were on the wing, the wind was coming at a 45-degree angle from the stands so I was happy being drawn low. All the others were taking that wind, I couldn’t believe he took me so easily as he normally races at 1m 2f, and then when he took me that strongly on the bridle at the 2f pole, I could stay on strongly.”

“Ground was in impeccable condition, no heavy in it for me.”

“Life at Roger Varian’s has started well, get the opportunities, a fantastic start.”

“I will absolutely be thinking about King of Steel this season.”

“I couldn’t believe how well I was going off bottom of the weights today, he’s put his best foot forward and he stays further than the mile, out of the headwind.”

Charyn (JTW Equine Images)

The opening race of the day, and indeed the opening race for the British Flat turf season, was the Listed William Hill Doncaster Mile Stakes. The race was won in great style by Charyn and jockey Silvestre de Sousa, on his return from a stint overseas. The Brazilian was always well-placed on the Roger Varian-trained Dark Angel colt, and early on the field was split into 2 groups going at a steady pace. Astral Beau was free on the near side, with Grey’s Monument taking them along at a steady pace. 5 furlongs out, the field began to converge up Town Moor’s straight, with Padishakh becoming the first to feel the pinch on ground officially stated as Soft, Heavy in places, although jockey Harry Davies said coming in the ground was riding slow, after partnering his mount Knight, who was never really involved. 2 furlongs out, the sprint for home seemed to be on, but Charyn began to pull well clear of last year’s winner Astral Beau, and record a cosy 3 ½ length victory for owner Mr Nurlan Bizakov, with Grey’s Monument staying on well for third.

Zminiature (JTW Equine Images)

The second race was a race traditionally run as the first race of the British Flat turf season for many years, the William Hill EBF Brocklesby Stakes (Class 2) for juvenile 2-year-olds. The contest was won by Zminiature and jockey Rhys Clutterbuck, who recovered from a slow start to take the 5 furlong sprint ahead of Bob The Bandit, whose second was remarkable given how he was first off the bit, with Indication Ember back in third.

All the two-year-olds were unraced prior to this run, so the experience should prove invaluable, but Rhys was proud of his mount.

“He’s won well; we missed the break, and 2 furlongs in he’s got the hang of it, known what he needs to do, and I’m delighted.”

The winning trainer Dylan Cunha said at halfway that he didn’t think the horse would win, and was “standing next to the owners and said to them that would be a good experience for him as Paddy’s Courage has gone on, but then he’s quickened up and that’s how he’s been at home.”

“I got to give credit to the team… looked after this horse every day, we took him to Chelmsford for a gallop last week. We are over the moon.”

The winning owners were J Sarkar, D Sarkar, O Sarkar and D Sarkar.

Look Back Smiling (JTW Equine Images)

The William Hill Epic Boost Spring Mile Handicap (Class 2) was won by Look Back Smiling and jockey Brandon Wilkie, for trainer Gemma Tutty and owner Nick Bradley Racing 21 & Partners, but only after surviving a lengthy stewards enquiry. The Fast Company gelding drifted towards the nearside late on, thwarting favourite backers of Thunder Roar, who had to settle for second, ahead of Arthur’s Realm and Clear Angel. A steadily-run race had been taken by the scruff of the neck in the closing stages by Helter Skelter, however as he drifted towards the far side, the petrol tank ran out, and he faded tamely as the action re-focused to the near side. The eventual winner was originally in the middle of the track, and having won here on heavy in October, he certainly knew where the winning line was, beating the favourite by half a length. The inquiry was lengthy enough, but no action was taken, despite the wayward actions of the winner.

Trainer Gemma Tutty was delighted, and speaking to Rishi Persad of ITV Racing she said that “that final furlong showed he is not straightforward, not made life easy for the jockey… another fantastic race at the track.”

“He shows absolutely nothing at home, we stick the least experienced riders on him at home!”

“You can’t have a better start to the turf season than this… getting a little ahead of ourselves talking about a possible double with One Night Thunder… we have got 20 horses, I’m so proud of the team, and when we saw the rain for this lad, we knew we had a better chance.”

The fourth race of the day was the Listed William Hill Cammidge Trophy Stakes over six furlongs, and was won by Montassib and Cieren Fallon, for trainer William Haggas and owners The Montassib Partnership. Early on, the Exceed and Excel gelding was held up in rear as the 3 Nick Bradley owned horses of Glorious Angel, Marshman and Sophia’s Starlight led the 7-strong field. Close home, it looked like Marshman would grind it out for victory, however Montassib had been waiting for a gap all up the Town Moor straight, and when that gap appeared, the acceleration was instant, and he got up close home to deny Marshman.

Jockey Cieren Fallon stated afterwards that the winner gave him a buzz.

“I do believe I should have won the Ayr Gold Cup, reversed the form at York, and I said to the boss that I think this lad could improve again from last year,”

“Very lucky at Peter O’Sullivan house with Ross, Glenn, Emma and Jess who have put in countless hours (Injured Jockey’s Fund), I’ve been off for four and a half months, I didn’t want to come back too soon, with a few little niggles, I wanted to come back 100%, and the boss has put me on some nice horses.”

“Took my time, ridden out the last 3 weeks, I feel better than ever, stronger, fitter, and I haven’t lost any race sharpness at all. To be riding horses like this, I am very, very lucky.”

Moon Over Miami (JTW Equine Images)

After the Lincoln, there was somewhat of a shock as Moon Over Miami, a Sea The Moon gelding out of Wiesenlerche, denied favourite backers when landing the William Hill Epic Value Maiden Stakes, beating Derby entry holder Harper’s Ferry. Despite another stewards inquiry, Hector Crouch was able to keep the win, for trainer Ralph Beckett and owner Valmont.

In a race where the front two eventually pulled 9 lengths clear of the field, Hector’s mount loved the conditions, and is bred to stay 2 miles. Unusually, the horse is only considered to be a handicapper, so the fact they beat a Derby entry on their debut start is not something to be shirked at.

“You do not expect to win a 1m 2f maiden! I am sure he will be in the October sales at the end of the year.”

“He is certainly bred for the ground, and it was a surprise. He showed up ok last autumn but and then it became all too much for him, on his bike a little bit with no idea what was about to happen!”

“It will take some time for him to get over this, staying is his game, and he is a nice handicapper for the future.”

The final two races were originally only meant to be one race, however the William Hill NRMB on the Grand National Apprentice Handicap Stakes was split into 2 races, due to the amount of declarations for the 1m 2f contest.

The first race was won in impressive style by Bustaam and Joe Leavy for trainer David O’Meara and owner Mr Raymond Treacy, who scooted clear to win like a good handicapper should, whilst the last race on the card was won by Destinado and jockey Sean Dylan Bowen, for trainer James Owen and owner Deva Racing Group.

Deva Racing Group’s manager Ryan Tongue was quoted as saying after the race that Destinado was “an absolute buy this lad; we’ve got him in the sales on Wednesday, but I don’t know whether to keep him now instead.”

I’m glad I’m a writer and photographer, and therefore not have to make that tough decision.

Contributing Authors

JTW Equine Images, Past the Wire

JTW Equine Images

JTW Equine Images are twin brothers Jack and Tom Williams from Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom. Jack and Tom have always been into horse racing, from...

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Thanks for the great pick. Played the 10 to win and place based on your description and got the exacta.

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