THE long, dark winter is over and the Flat season kicks off at Doncaster on Saturday.
Our man Jack Keene has picked out his best bets on ITV and is hoping to fire in a few more nice-priced winners.
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If you're more of a Flat fan, this really is the most wonderful time of the year.
The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and fast horses are set to return from their winter hiatus.
But before we get stuck into the Lincoln, I want to talk about a humdinger of a renewal of the Doncaster Mile.
The market is headed by Montatham, whose win at York in August, when he had Sir Busker and the re-opposing Top Rank in behind, was the best piece of turf handicap form in 2020.
William Haggas' runner bombed out in the Cambridgeshire, but if you forgive him that flop he remains a lovely prospect for the summer ahead.
He's one to follow, as is Top Rank, the talented filly Bounce The Blues and the good-looking Father Of Jazz.
But it's SPACE TRAVELLER (2.00 Doncaster) who gets the nod on his return from a 284-day absence.
He goes well fresh so the lay-off isn't a concern, and he was a respectable sixth in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot (on ground slower than ideal) on his only outing of last season.
In his three-year-old campaign, he bagged the Jersey Stakes and the Group 2 Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown, so we are talking about a horse with plenty of back-class.
He LOVES decent ground, and given how fast conditions were at Donny earlier in the week I don't think it will have deteriorated too much given the showers that were around on Friday morning.
Trainer Richard Fahey usually has them ready to roll at this meeting, Space Traveller is the top-rated horse in the field and he retains plenty of upside for the season ahead. He's a bet.
I'm going to be pretty unoriginal in the big one, but it's just so hard to get away from the promising HAQEEQY (3.10 Doncaster).
The nature of this race has changed over the years. Gone are the days when you could plot one up to sneak in at the foot of the weights. Now, the weights are compressed and stakes-class animals are coming out on top.
And that's exactly what Haqeeqy is – stakes class. He will be running in (and very likely winning) Group and Listed races this summer.
He was hugely impressive over 7f at the St Leger meeting here in September, overcoming a sluggish start to win readily in the hands of Jim Crowley.
Exciting young jockey Benoit de la Sayette takes over in the saddle this time, but if you're not familiar with him I really must stress that his 7lbs claim is daylight robbery. He is surely a hot favourite to be champion apprentice.
This horse will get plenty of pace to aim at, he has already claimed the scalp of the favourite Eastern World in the past and I've no doubt a mark of 100 seriously underestimates his ability.
Saturday selections (advised odds correct at time of writing)
2.00 Doncaster – Space Traveller 1pt WIN @ 11-2
3.10 Doncaster – Haqeeqy 2pts WIN @ 4-1
- (Column started August 6) rolling P&L: +23.3pts
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