Your ultimate Flat guide to Lincoln day at Doncaster and Dubai World Cup night
The day in a nutshell
Doncaster or Dubai, it matters not. The Flat is back and the sun is shining – what more could you want?
The opening-day feel so familiar to football fans on a warm August afternoon returns for racing anoraks at the end of March as the usual Flat aperitif is served up on Town Moor, and from a punting perspective it looks devilishly difficult.
Two competitive Listed contests, the 16-runner Spring Mile handicap and racing’s very own version of the National Lottery – the Brocklesby – feature on the seven-race card, whose highlight is the Unibet Lincoln in which Godolphin bid for a second success in four years with Auxerre.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Auxerre could prove the Group horse in a handicap but it is at Meydan where Group horses will be found in abundance on the world’s richest raceday on Dubai World Cup night.
Prize-money of $35 million tends to bring the best horses to town and the global appeal of the meeting knows no bounds, although locals will be hoping for a repeat of Thunder Snow's triumph in the Dubai World Cup.
Sands Of Mali, Lord Glitters, Without Parole and Magic Wand are among British and Irish hopes to look out for at Meydan, while the afternoon all-weather action in Britain comes from Kempton, including the Magnolia Stakes and Rosebery Handicap. There's plenty to get stuck into.
Blue is the colour, Godolphin is the name, all-out attack on World Cup night and winners are the aim. Saturday’s fare at Meydan has the feel of Cup final day for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation and expectations will be high after a night to remember last year when Thunder Snow completed a top-level four-timer in the main event.
Bin Suroor’s stable star bids for back-to-back wins in the Dubai World Cup and has to defy another wide draw in stall 12, while fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby's high-quality team will take plenty of stopping.
Appleby enjoyed his first two World Cup night winners last year with Jungle Cat and Hawkbill, and Cross Counter could provide him with the perfect start in the Dubai Gold Cup on his first start since his Melbourne Cup heroics.
Cross Counter is one of four favourites for Appleby on the card, and they include Blue Point who is more a red-hot than warm order for the Al Quoz Sprint, in which he was withdrawn at the start on veterinary advice last year.
Sheema Classic hotpot Old Persian and UAE Derby market leader Divine Image add further ammunition to the Appleby arsenal on what could prove an international Saturday to savour.
All eyes on Almond
One race in which Godolphin may have to settle for second is the Dubai Turf, with Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown winner Almond Eye aiming to come a step closer to a clash of almighty proportions with dual Arc heroine Enable.
We might not have to wait until October at Longchamp for a titanic duel between Britain and Japan's darling girls either.
The Yorkshire Oaks and Juddmonte International at York's Ebor meeting in August have been raised as potential targets for Almond Eye, with the latter also on Enable's agenda.
It will not just be trainer Sakae Kunieda and the colossal racing fraternity in Japan watching the Dubai Turf on tenterhooks.
There is a hint of Arsene Wenger about the fantastic top-four finish record of David O’Meara in the Lincoln in recent years.
O’Meara has saddled a winner – Bravery – two seconds, a third and two fourths in the last five runnings and new recruit Humbert and progressive handicapper Waarif have been given the task of continuing the good run.
The Yorkshire trainer had to settle for the runner-up spot last year with Lord Glitters, who faces an albeit different task as he contests the Dubai Turf for owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull at Meydan.
O'Meara said: “The first day of the season is always important for everyone and with a runner on World Cup night as well it's a big one for us. We always like to get our horses ready for the Lincoln meeting and it's a race we like to target. Everyone wants to start the season well and we're no exception.
“Humbert did plenty of winning for Hugo Palmer last year and Waarif went up close to 25lb for us, so they'll have to improve off their marks but I'm happy with their preparations.”
Champing at the bit
Last year's champion apprentice Jason Watson has the chance to make a big impression on new boss Roger Charlton with big-race rides on a classy card at Kempton.
Watson, who last week returned from two and a half months on the sidelines after suffering two hairline neck fractures in a fall at the Sunbury track in January, is 20-1 to land the Stobart Flat Jockeys' Championship.
The ITV4 cameras may well focus on the Brighton-born jockey with Extra Elusive (2.05) and Forbidden Planet (3.15) appearing to have solid claims.
Course winner Extra Elusive remains unexposed after three wins from five starts and could prove the main danger to six-timer seeking Matterhorn in the Listed Matchbook Magnolia Stakes, while the progressive Forbidden Planet is a deserved favourite for the Rosebery Handicap.
A LED special effects light show and appearance from 15-time Fibresand winner General Tufto will herald a new era at Southwell on Saturday evening when the track hosts its official floodlight switch-on racenight.
Southwell hosted action under the lights for the first time during Cheltenham Festival week and more than 5,000 racegoers are expected to attend the meeting.
Executive director Mark Clayton said: "We received glowing reports from those involved at out first floodlit meeting and we've built up to this day for two years – it will be a momentous occasion."
One horse who should prove popular is the Tony Flint-owned Hammer Gun, an eight-time winner from 16 starts at Southwell who bids for a quickfire course hat-trick in the £11,500 handicap (7.00).
Trainer Derek Shaw said: “He gets a good gallop there, which is not always the case at the other all-weather tracks, and that’s what really plays to his strengths. If he runs to his best he shouldn’t be far away.”
Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on racingpost.com and the Racing Post mobile app