The UK flat turf season may have been overshadowed by the Dubai World Cup but Godolphin made sure they were in the ascendancy at both events by taking the day’s feature race at Doncaster, the Unibet Lincoln Handicap, with the unexposed four year old Auxerre.
In the ante-post market for the race Auxerre was trading as one of the hottest favourites in the race for many years and it was expected that opposition on the day might force the price out but the opposite happened and he was backed into an even shorter price in the minutes leading up to the start.
Those who took the short prices must have been feeling pretty god throughout as jockey James Doyle, who had been diverted from Meydan and missing Dubai’s biggest night of the year, made no mistakes. Taking Auxerre into the lead from the outset, Doyle dictated matters from the front and with two furlongs to go was still travelling sweetly as others in behind began to send out distress signals. When he shook the reins it was all over quickly and although Kynren, the other gamble in the race, stayed on valiantly, he was never catching the easy winner.
After the race Doyle was quick to say that the trainer Charlie Appleby, who was absent as he was on duty in Dubai, had told him to ‘have full confidence’ in the horse. “He’s lightly raced and had only run once before in a double-figure field and to go out and make all was impressive,” Doyle said of the winner, who will now step up into Group company with Doyle nominating the Group 2 Sandown Mile as a possible target while stressing it would be the owner and trainer who would make the decisions around future targets.
With the victories of Cross Counter, Blue Point, Old Persian and Thunder Snow over in Meydan Sheikh Mohammed’s attention would have been focussed elsewhere but in Auxerre he may well have another potent weapon with which to tackle the season’s big races.
UK bookmakers are now dreading another hot favourite, Tiger Roll, winning next weekend’s Grand National in the second leg of what is commonly known as the Spring Double. Plenty punters will have doubled up the two favourites and with the Lincoln winner now in the bank for punters, bookies will be raising their hands in surrender if Tiger Roll can go in next Saturday.