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Charles Hills backs Model Pupil to pass Doncaster's opening Flat exam

The start of a new turf season on the Flat should be a cheerful rite of spring, but Town Moor today is as likely to prove white as green. It is almost as though winter is raging against the coming of the light. With snow forecast this morning, and more overnight, inspections have duly been scheduled for both days of the meeting.

Winteringham Fields, 1 Silver Street, Winteringham, Lincolnshire

Approaching from the east, the first thing you see in the Lincolnshire village of Winteringham, an isolated straggle of houses on the fringe of the Humber, is a sign that baldly declares 'FERRETS'. It is an unlikely milieu for an upmarket 'restaurant with rooms'. Yet there it is at the heart of the village: a slate-topped, two-storey structure, possibly a former Georgian inn, with pantiled extensions. The facilities include a helipad, but our spirits failed to soar on entering Winteringham Fields. Booked in for Friday lunch (three courses £39.95, four courses £45), my wife and I found ourselves deposited in a small, unpopulated lounge. Our refusal to take a drink before the meal was greeted with an expression of surprise ("Oh!") as if apéritifs were pretty much compulsory.

Quins block Redpath's route to play-offs

Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath has challenged his side to keep their push for a play-off place on track by ending their poor run against Premiership leaders Harlequins at Kingsholm today.

Samba hints at Blackburn exit

Blackburn defender Christopher Samba has cast doubt over his future at Ewood Park by claiming he would leap at the chance to leave if a "good opportunity" arose.

Carlton drifts after injury scare

It was almost as though he wanted to prove that any and all ranks of society can discover a common derangement in their fascination for racehorses. Carlton House, hot favourite to give the Queen her first success in the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday, was yesterday subject of the type of 11th-hour scare that seems de rigueur in this sort of situation. There remains every prospect that he will take his chance – and show his form – but he has certainly emphasised that even a monarch must accept the frailties latent in the breed's own majesty.

O'Brien settles on Derby quartet

Yesterday was a time for some i-dotting and t-crossing, and a little head-scratching, in mission control at Ballydoyle. In the morning, Aidan O'Brien's squad for the Derby was finalised; a quartet – Seville, Recital, Treasure Beach and Memphis Tennessee – is set to challenge for the £1.25m Investec-sponsored purse at Epsom on Saturday, with another who might have done so, Roderic O'Connor, heading for the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly the following day.

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