Hugo Palmer’s talented miler Ascription is likely to kick off his campaign in the £100,000 William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on March 29.
The five-year-old won over the course and distance on his penultimate start, one of three career victories for a horse who prefers easier underfoot conditions.
William Hill make Palmer’s charge the 14-1 joint second-favourite for the traditional Flat season curtain-raiser and the trainer is hoping the wet weather that is currently lashing the country continues for a while yet.
Palmer said: “It’s well documented that he prefers cut in the ground and following the wettest winter in living memory, you’d like to think there is a good chance he’ll get that at Doncaster in seven weeks’ time.
“He is very well in himself. I couldn’t be happier with him at the moment and provided all goes well, the Lincoln will probably be his first run of the year.
“He wouldn’t be ready before then, so he’d go straight there and with a rating of 109 he’ll probably have nearly top-weight.
“It’s amazing to think he’s never run in a stakes race with that sort of rating, but hopefully the Lincoln will be his last run in a handicap. It took a while for us to find the key to him, but he is still lightly raced and hopefully still improving.”
Ascription is one of 121 entries for the Lincoln – the largest amount since the redevelopment of the racecourse in 2007. The last four winners of the famous contest all feature, with the quartet hailing from Yorkshire yards.
John Quinn’s title-holder Levitate could defend his crown, 2010 winner Penitent and impressive 2011 scorer Sweet Lightning have both been entered by David O’Meara and 2012 winner Brae Hill is in contention for Richard Fahey. Richard Hannon’s Wentworth is the 12-1 ante-post favourite with the sponsors.
Godolphin have entered Quick Wit, My Freedom and Free Wheeling. Doncaster’s clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said: “We’re delighted with the increase in initial numbers for this year’s renewal and indeed the quality of entries.
“I’m very pleased with the way the track has recovered from the November Handicap and we are in a better place than we were last year in terms of grass cover.”
Doncaster also stages a cracking National Hunt card this afternoon with trainer Harry Fry praying less rain than forecast falls in order to get another run into Rock On Ruby.
The 2012 Champion Hurdle winner has only had one run over the bigger obstacles and his presence in the Eventmasters Corporate Hospitality Novices’ Chase has scared off all bar one opponent, the useful but quirky Mr Mole from Paul Nicholls’ yard.
However, due to the fact Rock On Ruby has had issues with his breathing in the past, Fry will not risk his stable star on ground he feels is too soft. Fry said: “I’m just praying they don’t get too much rain overnight.”
Even if Rock On Ruby does not show up, there should still be another interesting runner on the card in First Mohican. Now in the care of Alan King having been a Group-class performer on the level for the Cecils, he makes his hurdling debut in the eventmasters.co.uk Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles.