Racing: Kinane to follow Fallon as Motivator man

Cheltenham is in the formbook, the cowslips are blooming on the heath in Newmarket, the names we conjured with last summer and autumn are beginning to take ever-bolder steps on the training grounds and plans are being formulated. The best filly in town, and in the world come to that, Ouija Board, has wintered without alarm or excursion at Gainsborough Stables and her first venture in public as a four-year-old is likely to be back at the scene and on the anniversary of her first great triumph, the Oaks.

Cheltenham is in the formbook, the cowslips are blooming on the heath in Newmarket, the names we conjured with last summer and autumn are beginning to take ever-bolder steps on the training grounds and plans are being formulated. The best filly in town, and in the world come to that, Ouija Board, has wintered without alarm or excursion at Gainsborough Stables and her first venture in public as a four-year-old is likely to be back at the scene and on the anniversary of her first great triumph, the Oaks.

The Coronation Cup, 10 weeks on Friday, is nominated as her starting point. "It will be nice to get her back to Epsom, where she had her last run in this country," said Peter Stanley, brother and racing manager to the Ed Dunlop-trained filly's owner-breeder, Lord Derby. "She's back in training and ticking over. Ed is very happy with her. She's in great order."

The Group One race over the Oaks course and distance will be Ouija Board's second venture against colts. In her first, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, she finished third, a venture sandwiched between victories in the Irish Oaks and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. During her downtime the daughter of Cape Cross has thickened into her frame and looks much more the finished athlete. "She has filled out, although she hasn't grown upwards," added Stanley. "It's early days but we are happy."

At the other end of the Hamilton Road and round the corner at Fitzroy Stables, there is equal measured satisfaction surrounding Classic contender Motivator, winner of the Racing Post Trophy in October. But the Michael Bell-trained son of Montjeu is likely to have a new jockey, as Kieren Fallon, in the saddle at Doncaster, will probably have alternative commitments for his new employers at Ballydoyle. Mick Kinane, stable jockey in Co Tipperary until replaced by Fallon's predecessor, Jamie Spencer, is the main name in the frame.

"We have approached Mick Kinane and he is keen to ride," said Alex Smith, spokesman for the colt's owner, the Royal Ascot Racing Club. "He hasn't been to sit on the horse yet, but we are hoping he will be available. We couldn't do much better than him for a big race as he has so much experience."

Motivator is 7-1 Derby second favourite, and is around 12-1 for the 2,000 Guineas on 30 April, his planned first run of the season. "He's done extremely well over the winter. We're very pleased with him," Smith said. "He's strengthened up in all the right places and looks quite forward in his coat for this time of year."

Because Easter falls early this year, the Flat turf campaign starts at Kempton, rather than Doncaster, an unusual but not unique occurrence. The first race on grass will be the Masaka Stakes, for which 13 three-year-old fillies were entered yesterday, including 1,000 Guineas entries Joint Aspiration, Umniya, Tahrir, Starchy and Vista Bella, the first-named sixth to Oaks favourite Playful Act in the Fillies' Mile last year and the last-named an eyecatching winner at Wolverhampton last month.

The colts' equivalent, the Easter Stakes, attracted 12, with four - Coventry Stakes third Capable Guest, Kings Quay, Rebel Rebel and Solent - holding the 2,000 Guineas engagement. Ouija Board's stablemate Blythe Knight, second to Eccentric in the Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday, has been installed 6-1 favourite for the day's feature handicap, the Rosebery Stakes.

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