Alston and Ballarina dance to music of time
However anomalous the stage, there was nothing wrong with the script. For various reasons, the first Flat meeting on turf in 2011 was yesterday staged at Catterick, of all places – three days before the William Hill Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster. But if few pulses could be raised by an apprentice handicap, won by a mare rated just 54, then hearts could still be touched when Eric Alston, trainer of Ballarina, revealed that it was exactly 50 years ago that he had ridden a horse called Troilus to win the first race of the season, on the forgotten old course at Lincoln.
Those of a less sentimental disposition were rather more stimulated, no doubt, by the fact that the two most impressive winners on the card were saddled by John Quinn, who endured a frustrating spell on the Flat early last season but whose string has palpably resumed in fine fettle this time. And he still has unfinished business over jumps. Recession Proof, who has excelled in his novice season over timber, steps up in trip at Aintree next week, while Quinn sounds much happier with Character Building's preparation for the John Smith's Grand National than last year, when he faded into seventh. Nina Carberry has again been booked to ride.
Paul Hanagan, who laid the foundations of his jockeys' title at the Lincoln meeting last year, had been sent south by Richard Fahey for the first day of his defence – and it was soon apparent why. Miss Work Of Art, a well backed favourite on her debut, ran out a decisive winner of the juvenile maiden at Lingfield. "She was a little bit green early, but once the penny dropped she came home well," Hanagan said.
Ryan Moore, whose own challenge for the title was derailed by a wrist injury last summer, laid down a marker with a double for Richard Hannon.
Havingotascoobydo (3.35 Ludlow) Highly progressive, after just four starts over timber, and regrouped in good style after giving the winner a start at Sandown last time, having travelled well through the race.
Man Of God (3.20 Leicester) Top-class pedigree, with two sisters having finished second in the Oaks and another third, and looks to have been given a manageable rating, with improvement guaranteed at this distance.
One to watch
Tasheyaat (Barry Hills) Was well backed for her debut at Lingfield last weekend and showed why with her strong finish for third.
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Premier League: Chelsea vs West Ham match preview
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
The best sport selfies of 2014
Jose Mourinho on Sir Alex Ferguson: 'A good friend, a good person, a fantastic sense of humour. I like him very, very much'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...