Moore the Merrier

Well, the Flat season certainly returned with a bang.

Ryan Moore, who, as the best jockey currently riding in the UK and has an army of faithful followers, banged in the first three winners of the afternoon at Doncaster.

Odds of 7-1 (twice) and 8-1 meant bookmakers were quaking in their boots as the quietly-spoken southerner got the leg up on Oh This Is Us in the Lincoln Handicap.

Already well-backed from morning odds of around 14/1, the liabilities riding on the horse after Moore’s quick-fire hat-trick meant the firms had to pile money back into the ring, forcing the four-year-old into 7/2 on the off.

And entering the final furlong it looked like the nightmare was about to come reality for the bookies as Moore swept to the front, only to be collared by the David O’Meara-trained Bravery 100 yards from the line.

Estimates suggest the result spared the industry a payout of between £10-15m, which would have eclipsed even the Mullins/Walsh four-timer that never was, when Annie Power fell at the last a couple of Cheltenhams ago.

As for the winner, it was yet another feather in the cap of O’Meara, who had a quieter year in 2016 after moving his training base, but this victory could signal another breakthrough season for a man tipped as a future champion.

Honours on the day though went to Richard Hannon, who bagged three winners and also sent out Oh This Is Us, while Richard Fahey’s team appears to be well forward and his Requinto Dawn was a visually impressive winner of the second division of the Brocklesby.

However, his winning time was slightly slower than the first division won by Santry, where the strongly fancied The Rocket Man was take on for the lead and ultimately set the race up for the closers.

There was a very good card on the all-weather at Kempton where Hakam and Big Country provided a memorable double for Rutland handler Mick Appleby and owners The Horse Watchers.

Big Country was having only his second outing for current connections, and after the four-year-old made a mockery of a competitive looking handicap Appleby admitted it was one of the best horses he’d ever trained.

This week will be full of the build-up to the Randox Health Grand National, which looks wide-open this year as they currently go 10-1 the field.

Usually by this time the bookmakers have found a favourite and it looks at this stage as though Definitly Red and Vieux Lion Rouge will be gunning for that dubious honour.

Both horses would probably prefer soft ground and with a largely dry week forecast, the going could be riding good.

At this stage I quite like the look of Irish raider Cause Of Causes, who won the Cross Country chase at Cheltenham to make it three successive wins at the Festival.

He was eighth behind Many Clouds two years ago but is just 4lb higher now, and providing he doesn’t get too far behind he should reward each-way support at least.

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