Swallow Flight can swoop on curtain-raiser

At around 1.15 this afternoon, a gaggle of pale and tiny young men and women will leave the weighing room at Doncaster racecourse. Goose-pimpled both from the cold and their nerves, and with their seven-stone frames bent almost double under the weight of their saddles, they will mount a motley assortment of handicappers and race around 12 furlongs of Town Moor. After the high dramas and disasters of Cheltenham, welcome back to Flat racing on turf.

At around 1.15 this afternoon, a gaggle of pale and tiny young men and women will leave the weighing room at Doncaster racecourse. Goose-pimpled both from the cold and their nerves, and with their seven-stone frames bent almost double under the weight of their saddles, they will mount a motley assortment of handicappers and race around 12 furlongs of Town Moor. After the high dramas and disasters of Cheltenham, welcome back to Flat racing on turf.

The urge to take some of the jockeys home for a damn good feed is just one of the experiences with which we will become reacquainted over the coming months. Blanket finishes, draw bias and sprint handicaps are others, so too the false reassurance that comes from not seeing your money leave the ground. Above all, there are names back in the mists of the last century, like Distant Music, Giant's Causeway and Teggiano, which suddenly seem very important indeed.

Doncaster, as it happens, was where Distant Music first hinted that he might be a colt of the very highest quality. He produced a burst of speed in the middle of the Champagne Stakes, which took him from mid-division to the shoulders of the leader in half a dozen strides. It was a hallmark of quality, duly confirmed with victory in the Dewhurst Stakes in October. He has had three runs, three wins, and he could still be anything.

Distant Music is undoubtedly the colt that everyone wants to see, though whether he will have a prep race before the 2,000 Guineas on 6 May has yet to be decided. Other potential Classic contenders could be out as soon as this weekend, however, since Aidan O'Brien, who had half-a-dozen leading two-year-olds last year, has entered Monashee Mountain, a 20-1 chance for the 2,000 Guineas, in a minor stakes race at the Curragh on Sunday.

That will set in train a giddy spiral of trials, ante-post betting, plunges and rumours, leading first to the Guineas meeting, and then the Derby and Oaks at Epsom. O'Brien's will be one of the key names, since four of the first six horses in most Guineas lists - Giant's Causeway, Bernstein and Mull Of Kintyre are the others - are housed in his Ballydoyle yard.

There will be other names to watch too, among them Mick Channon, who this year joins training's major league. Channon has almost 150 horses in his string for his first year in the West Ilsley yard once occupied by Dick Hern. In Seazun, the Cheveley Park Stakes winner, he has a serious contender for the 1,000 Guineas.

Trainers who are starting out this year include Alan Berry, who has taken over the licence at the Cockerham yard which his father Jack built. Jamie Osborne too will be desperate to get his training career off to a brisk start.

At the other end of the scale, meanwhile, there are new associations to ponder, and rivalries to anticipate. Kieren Fallon, who last year became the first Flat jockey since Sir Gordon Richards to ride 200 winners three seasons in a row, will expect to do so again in his new role as stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute's 190-horse string. Fallon's former employer, Henry Cecil, also has a new No1, Richard Quinn.

Neither Fallon nor Quinn is in action today at Doncaster, where much of the attention will concentrate instead on Walter Swinburn, making his latest attempt to return to riding after problems with his weight. His rides include Desert Knight, a live contender for the Doncaster Mile, but SWALLOW FLIGHT (nap 3.40) may just get the better of him.

As ever, the first day's card is not one to get too heavily involved with. However, Jathaab (next best 2.35) has a realistic chance to defy top weight, while David Nicholls is always a man to keep on your side in sprints. He has two in the five-furlong handicap, with Further Outlook (3.10) narrowly preferred.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week