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Eton Rifles

Eton Rifles ran a cracker to finish fifth in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday on ground that probably would have been too fast for him, over a distance that was probably too far, and racing on what was probably the unfavoured part of the track. He was the second horse home from the group of 11 that raced on the far side, a length and a half behind Dubai Hills and nicely clear of the other nine. The far side of the course was clearly the slower part on the day; the first three home in the first race on the card, the Spring Mile, the Lincoln consolation race, came from the near side group, with the first home on the far side five and a half lengths behind the winner, and in this race Sweet Lightning had two and a half lengths in hand over Brae Hill, both of whom raced in the near side group, with a further six lengths back to the first of the far side group.

This was Eton Rifles’s first run over a mile since his debut three years ago, and he just didn’t quite see it out as strongly through the last half-furlong as those around him did, but for which he would have finished even closer. Howard Johnson’s gelding was off a career high mark of 94 here after three successive seconds to finish his campaign last time round, and judged by this run he has the ability to win off it as he has never actually won first time out in any of his previous seasons. He will be better than this when dropped back to seven furlongs, especially with a bit of cut in the ground. He is a son of Pivotal and most of his form has come with some juice in the ground, including a win on heavy. This was a most encouraging seasonal debut, and he can go on from this again now. He is six but, on this evidence, he is in the form of his life.

2nd April 2011