It may have been the world’s richest raceday in Dubai but the Betway Lincoln at Doncaster is when the season really starts for Richard Fahey.
The Malton handler combined with jockey Tony Hamilton and owner Dr Marwan Koukash to win the traditional season opener for a second time in four years after Gabrial pounced by a neck.
Fahey achieved a lifetime ambition when Brae Hill was successful in 2011, and this year he had two runners, with last year’s sixth Gabrial’s Kaka, also owned by Koukash, the better fancied of the pair.
But as a previous Listed race winner and well handicapped on his old form, it was Gabrial who produced the goods.
David O’Meara’s French import Mondialiste broke away with a furlong to run but when Hamilton extricated himself from a pocket, Gabrial (12-1) quickened up smartly to win with a degree of authority.
The wayward Moohaarib was third, with What About Carlo fourth and the well-backed Mange All fifth.
“When I started off in racing I always wanted to win the big handicaps, Cesarewitch, Ayr Gold Cup and the Lincoln,” said Koukash.
“When I first met Richard I asked what race he would like to win the most and he said it was this one. Now we’ve done it twice so I’m delighted.”
The Betway Spring Mile, for horses who failed to make the cut for the Lincoln, was won impressively by Alan King’s Chatez (14-1) after a spell hurdling.
Tullius was sent off the 1-2 favourite to win Betway Doncaster Mile but had to work hard for the victory.
Having been placed in the Lincoln off top weight 12 months ago, Andrew Balding’s likeable chestnut finished second to Olympic Glory in the Lockinge at Newbury and that race could again be on his agenda.
Naadirr (5-1) looks booked for a big summer after running out a very impressive winner of the Betway Cammidge Trophy.
A year ago Silvestre de Sousa won the Dubai World Cup with African Story and while the victory of Ravenhoe (7-2) in the Betway Brocklesby Conditions Stakes was not as lucrative, it could be just as pivotal in the jockey’s career.
Before De Sousa took up his position as former stable jockey for Godolphin, he had a fruitful partnership with Mark Johnston and it appears the Middleham man will be calling on his services once more.
David O’Meara appears to have his string in good order and it will be interesting to see whether Makin A Statement can make a successful start for the yard in the Unibet Offer Daily Jockey/Trainer Specials Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Southwell.
The Nawton handler got the turf season off to a flyer with a winner at Doncaster on Saturday, while numerous other horses proved themselves in good heart in defeat.
Makin A Statement showed only fair form as a juvenile for fellow Yorkshire-based trainer John Quinn, with a close third at Newcastle sandwiched between less-inspiring efforts at Nottingham and Catterick.
However, O’Meara has a knack of squeezing improvement out of new recruits and this gelded three-year-old does not need to raise his game too much to win what is a fairly weak affair.
* Selections - Exeter: 2.00 Archie Rice, 2.35 Royal Moll, 3.05 Degooch, 3.40 Smart Exit, 4.10 Borguy, 4.45 Lawsons Thorns, 5.15 Certain Flight.
Huntingdon: 2.10 Blue Bear, 2.45 Vendredi Trois, 3.15 Ultimatum Du Roy, 3.50 Experimentalist, 4.20 Mondo Cane, 4.55 Maypole Lass.
Southwell: 2.20 Toto Skyllachy, 2.55 MAKIN A STATEMENT (NAP), 3.25 Coiste Bodhar, 4.00 Conserve, 4.30 Shearian, 5.05 Quadriga.
Double: Makin A Statement and Coiste Bodhar.