Johnny Murtagh, riding for the John Oxx yard this term having been stable jockey to Aidan O’Brien last season at Ballydoyle, booted home the winner of the ultra-competitive William Hill Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday for the second year running, writes Elliot Slater.
Twelve months ago Murtagh made the bookies weep as he booted home the William Haggas-trained Penitent to justify 3/1 favouritism having been the subject of a massive nationwide gamble. This time around there were bits and pieces of market support for the Michael Dods-trained Sweet Lightning but he was still sent off a 16/1 shot in the horse racing odds, leading home placed horses at much bigger prices as the betting industry recouped much of the losses sustained in the race in 2010.
Sweet Lightning is owned by Andrew Tinkler, a major shareholder in the Eddie Stobart haulage business, whose founder passed away earlier in the week making the win of the six-year-old an even more emotional success than is normally the case. The Fantastic Light gelding has been busy in Dubai during the winter and run with plenty of credit, his best effort being when second to the very useful Golden Sword in a valuable handicap on the Tapeta surface at Meydan over 10 furlongs.
The drop back to the straight mile at Town Moor proved no inconvenience for the North-Eastern raider who took up the running going very well under Murtagh just inside the final furlong, before keeping on strongly to deny Brae Hill by two-and-a-half lengths, the pair pulling an impressive six-lengths clear of the third, Dubai Hills.
Dods, who had been tempted to miss the Lincoln and give his charge a break, feels it would now make plenty of sense to try and strike again while the iron is hot and will look to find a suitable opportunity in Listed company in the not too distant future, possibly at Newmarket’s Craven fixture.