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Saturday Horse Racing: Preview

Welsh hopes on Lincoln weekend will rest on the shoulders of jockey David Probert when he rides Encourageable in the feature race at Doncaster on Saturday.

The traditional start of the flat turf season will see Probert on board the 28-1 outsider, trained by Yorkshire-based James Horton.

Probert, from Bargoed, is the current British All Weather champion jockey and lays in fifth-place in this season’s standings.

He’s ridden 44 winners but Encourageable is some way down the betting for the Pertemps Network Lincoln after finishing sixth in his last race at Haydock at the end of September.

But trainer Horton says of Encourageable, “He won a mile handicap very nicely at the back end of last year and that was the day we thought he could be a Lincoln horse.

“We have given him every opportunity to get there and he hasn’t missed a beat. He should be in good shape.

“He was sick during last season and I’m not sure we got him 100 per cent right for the rest of that year.”

Leading the betting is Al Mubhir, who is aiming to give trainer William Haggas a record fifth race victory, after his last success with Addeybb in 2018.

Haggas also runs Montassib, but Al Mubhir’s principal rival will be Awaal, ridden by James Doyle, who was also on Addeybb in that last Haggas triumph five years ago.

Last year, the race was won by Johan, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa and trained by Mick Channon.

Probert – who was voted Flat Racing Jockey of the Year at last year’s Welsh Horse Racing Awards – claimed over 150 winners in the 12 months to last September, earning £2.8m in prize money.

The 33-year-old will have a chance to gain his first flat victory on the turf this season, when he rides Loaded Gun, the 9-2 third favourite, in the opening race of the day, the Brocklesby Stakes at 1.50pm.

In the early betting markets it is Valadero who heads the field, with Indication Call also fancied just ahead of Loaded Gun.

Probert will then be in the saddle on 6-1 fourth favourite King’s Lynn for the Cammidge Trophy Stakes at 3.00pm, before the big race – the Lincoln – at 3.35.

The Lincoln (otherwise known as The Lincoln Handicap) has run at Doncaster since 1965 when it was transferred from Lincoln Racecourse.

The race itself has run since 1849 and has had its name altered over the years from the Lincolnshire Handicap to the Lincoln Spring Handicap before becoming The Lincoln Handicap.

This year, the Pertemps Network Lincoln Handicap is worth a massive £150,000, and the Spring Mile Handicap is worth £75,000 – a big step up in prize money from previous years.

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