“There’s nothing hidden with Withernsea,” Richard Fahey says in assessing one of his runners in today’s Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster, which is true enough of a consistent horse who doesn’t often win. But this step up in trip has the potential to make a difference to the six-year-old, who is surely overpriced at 28-1.
Withernsea (3.35) is by no means bred for a mile, which is surely why he has done nearly all of his racing at shorter, but several of his performances have suggested a step up in trip would be helpful, including the runs at Leopardstown and Doncaster that closed his last season. He has been well beaten on two previous tries at this trip but had excuses both times.
Here, he is partnered by Tony Hamilton, Fahey’s main jockey, for just the second time since they won here in November 2015, finishing powerfully over seven furlongs. With much less juice in the ground, today’s extra furlong looks not just helpful but necessary. He is a horse with a low strike-rate who has found a fair bit of traffic trouble in his time, so this could quite easily go wrong for him. But he has a big prize in him and his odds look misjudged.
Yuften is a predictable favourite after an eyecatching run at Wolverhampton three weeks ago. He is well treated and a gelding operation over the winter may have helped, but 9-2 looks short enough for a race like this.
Rest of Saturday’s ITV4 races
1.50 Doncaster Last year’s winner, Mobsta, could go in again, though the ground might only just be soft enough for him unless there is more rain than forecast. Andrea Atzeni, riding him for the first time, is an excellent booking.
2.05 Kempton Sovereign Debt and Viren’s Army, both recent winners in the Middle East, set a high standard here but the trick for them will be reproducing that form after such a significant return journey. The incredibly durable Fire Fighting makes plenty of appeal after a big reappearance effort at Dundalk a week ago and he might be hard to catch if any sharper for that.
2.25 Doncaster The well-bred Sacred Act is having just his second run for two years, so there have obviously been setbacks along the way, but it is encouraging to see him out so early in the year. John Gosden’s charge overcame trouble in running to win at Sandown in September on his first start for well over a year and an extra 7lb leaves him plenty of scope to win again.
2.40 Kempton Course specialists are always of interest at Britain’s only right-handed all-weather circuit and Dutch Golden Age is four from six around here. He’s gone up another half stone for his February success but can cope with that against beatable opponents.
3.00 Doncaster Toscanini has joined Fahey from Michael Halford as a lead horse for Ribchester but gets to run on his own account here and could stretch a fairly exposed collection of rivals. Having beaten Eastern Impact in a Group Three sprint last summer, he must be the fastest horse in this race and the question is whether he can make himself last another quarter-mile. Odds of 12-1 suggest the market knows the answer but it may be worth taking the chance.
3.15 Kempton Mark Johnston’s Final is showing a new level of form this year, helped by the step up in trip. He could be up to getting his third win from four starts.
Tips for all Saturday races
Chelmsford 5.45 Hannington 6.15 Bahar 6.45 Par Three 7.15 Malaysian Boleh 7.45 Carigrad 8.15 Zilza 8.45 Tasaaboq
Doncaster 1.50 Mobsta 2.25 Sacred Act 3.00 Toscanini 3.35 Withernsea (nap) 4.10 Almane 4.45 Move To The Front 5.20 Wasatch Range 5.50 Deeley’s Double
Kempton 1.30 Many Waters 2.05 Fire Fighting 2.40 Dutch Golden Age 3.15 Final 3.50 Global Alexander 4.25 Brief Visit 5.00 Canadian Diamond
Stratford 1.40 Excellent Team 2.10 I’ll Be Your Clown 2.45 Bourbon Prince 3.20 Some Buckle 3.55 Asum 4.30 Le Braye 5.05 Ballycoe 5.35 Arakhan
Uttoxeter 1.55 Dragon Khan 2.30 Indian Brave 3.05 Silverhow 3.40 Allbarnone (nb) 4.15 Mash Potato 4.50 Lord Bryan 5.25 Farbreaga 5.55 Black Sam Bella