Doncaster heralds start of another exciting season for Middleham Park
A century of winners is the aim in 2019 for Middleham Park Racing who are out to hit the ground running as the Flat turf season begins in Britain at Doncaster this weekend.
The successful syndicate reached the milestone of 1,000 winners last year, and with just over 100 horses in training in Britain this season, hopes are high for a bumper campaign.
Founder Tim Palin said on Tuesday: "Once upon a time we used to pride ourselves on having Saturday runners, then it was Saturday winners. Then it was festival runners and now it's festival winners. They're the races we're trying to compete in."
"We'd love to think we could get to 100 winners again, that's our main target this season."
With a slew of entries spread between Doncaster, Kempton and Ascot on Saturday, the familiar light blue and orange Middleham Park silks are likely to be seen a lot this weekend, and among the runners could be Lexington Quest, who is a possible for the first juvenile race of the season, the Unibet Brocklesby Conditions Stakes.
"We've never won the race," Palin added. "We've had the favourite a couple of times and been second and third in it. Lexington Quest will work on Wednesday and if he works well then he'll go. Physically he's an archetypal Richard Hannon two-year-old. He's a racy, sharp individual."
Palin also highlighted some other juveniles to note for the early part of the season, and said: "We've a very nice Pastoral Pursuits colt with Richard Fahey called Ventura Rebel, he goes very well at home.
"We've got a Dandy Man colt with Richard Hannon called Jen's Lad, Cityzen Serg, by Raven's Pass and named after Sergio Aguero who is also with Richard Hannon and a Tamayuz colt called San Rafael with Mark Johnston.
"I'd expect all of them to run this side of Ascot and you'd like to think one of those could win on debut and go on to something a bit better."
Middleham Park may have two contenders for the Unibet Lincoln, and Palin said: "Waarif has had two away days and is very fit. Ventura Knight might sneak in. Auxerre looks like he will take a bit of beating and ours have each-way chances."
Guineas trials are on the agenda for Boitron and Marie's Diamond, with both winning at Pattern level as juveniles. Boitron lost his unbeaten record when fourth in the Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day, and could start off back in France as Palin said: "They are in the Prix Djebel and the French Guineas.
"It depends on the ground. If it's good ground or faster Marie's Diamond will probably go there, if it's on the easy side then Boitron will probably go for it.
"We have tidied up Boitron's wind over the winter and hopefully that might eke out a pound or two of improvement. Richard Hannon liked the idea of going for the Greenham but if you pardon the pun it looks too darn hot! He could go for the Craven instead."
Raymond Tusk, winner of a Group 2 in Italy last season, holds an entry for the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton on Saturday, but could sidestep that entry, with longer trips an option for the four-year-old.
"The key to whether we can make him better than a Group 3 horse is whether he stays extended trips," Palin added. "We'll be exploring races like the Sagaro and John Porter as possible starting points."
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