Turf Talk: Big Country looks good value for Flat-season curtain-raiser at Doncaster

Lancelot Du Lac ridden by Frankie Dettori (left) winning The Qatar Stewards' Cup Handicap at Goodwood last August. PIC: Paul Harding/PA Wire
Lancelot Du Lac ridden by Frankie Dettori (left) winning The Qatar Stewards' Cup Handicap at Goodwood last August. PIC: Paul Harding/PA Wire
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Big Country could be the value call in the 32Red Lincoln at Doncaster.

The prestigious handicap is the traditional curtain-raiser to the Flat turf season in Britain and another fiercely competitive renewal looks in store.

The booking of Ryan Moore to ride the Michael Bell-trained Fire Brigade is notable, while William Haggas will have high hopes of claiming a fourth victory in the race with Addeybb.

However, while that pair have been off the track since the autumn, Big Country proved his well-being with a comeback victory in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton earlier this month and that match fitness could prove crucial in the forecasted testing conditions.

Mick Appleby’s charge has done much of his racing over longer trips, most notably finishing a close-up second in the John Smith’s Cup at York last summer.

It was actually a shade surprising that he displayed the requisite pace to win over the extended mile at Dunstall Park a fortnight ago and that augurs well for over the more demanding straight mile on Town Moor.

Proceedings get under way with the Unibet Cammidge Trophy, in which Lancelot Du Lac should take some beating. Last season’s Stewards’ Cup hero will be sharper than several of his rivals following a couple of spins on the all-weather.

His fine weight-carrying victory at Wolverhampton recently suggested he is better than ever and with soft ground not an issue, he looks a solid betting proposition.

Taqdeer is a fascinating contender for the 32Red.com Spring Mile.

John Gosden’s charge has evidently had his issues, having been sidelined since winning successive races in the spring of 2016.

His high-profile connections would not have persevered if they did not feel he was worth the wait, however, and it is interesting he contests such a strong race on his long-awaited return.

The Richard Hannon-trained Tabarrak can give weight and a beating to his five rivals in the Unibet Doncaster Mile.

The son of Acclamation won twice at Listed level last season and sets the standard on his reappearance.

Encore D’Or is fancied to claim a fourth win from seven starts at Lingfield in the Betway Sprint Handicap, while the best bet at Wolverhampton’s evening fixture is Jazirat, who bids to follow up a dominant Chelmsford triumph in the 32Red.com Handicap.

The EBF & TBA Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Finale is the main attraction over jumps at Newbury and in a wide-open affair the vote goes to Petticoat Tails.

Warren Greatrex’s inmate won twice in the bumper sphere last season and competed with credit in strong events at Sandown and Aintree in the spring.

She finished out with the washing on her hurdling debut at Wincanton, but has bounced back with successive wins and has been targeted at this race since her latest success at Newcastle at the end of January.

Others have achieved more, but Petticoat Tails is open to improvement, likes soft ground and has a nice racing weight, so she ticks plenty of boxes.

Donald McCain rarely leaves his beloved Bangor without a winner and can strike gold once more with Same Circus in the Shade Oak Stud Mares’ Handicap Chase.

TURF TALK TIPS

BANGOR: 1.40 Spirit Of Hale, 2.15 Same Circus (treble), 2.50 Comber Mill, 3.25 Lough Derg Farmer, 4.00 Ballymoy, 4.35 Euxton Lane, 5.10 Lust For Glory.

DONCASTER: 1.50 LANCELOT DU LAC (NAP), 2.25 Taqdeer, 3.00 Tabarrak, 3.35 Big Country (next best), 4.10 Langholm, 4.45 Argentello, 5.20 Swansway. 5.50 Tagur.

LINGFIELD: 2.00 Mother Of Dragons, 2.30 Sallab, 3.10 Poet’s Society, 3.45 Encore D’Or, 4.20 Inuk, 4.55 Attain.

NEWBURY: 2.05 Sego Success, 2.40 Oistrakh Le Noir, 3.15 Petticoat Tails, 3.50 Sametegal, 4.25 Rathhill, 5.00 Caribert, 5.35 Mystifiable.

WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Mehdi, 6.15 Blackheath, 6.45 Jazirat, 7.15 Mimram, 7.45 Kamra, 8.15 Highly Focussed, 8.45 Haraz, 9.15 Reason To Believe.