by Tom O'Ryan

The 1998 Flat turf season kicks-off in traditional style at Doncaster tomorrow, and the advice to punters is to appreciate Depreciate in the Tote/49's Handicap, one of four races being shown live on Channel 4.

Trained at Maunby, near Thirsk, by David Barron, and owned by Ian Armitage, a well-known Ryedale racing enthusiast, Depreciate has a distinct fitness advantage over most of his rivals, having been in action on the sand in recent weeks.

Winner of his last two races at Southwell, over six and five furlongs, Depreciate is clearly in tremendous heart for the start of the turf campaign, and significantly begins the term on an 18lb lower mark than at the same time last season.

In what looks a very competitive race, Depreciate faces a stiff test, but he is napped to come out on top over Passion For Life and The Gay Fox.

The £16,250 Doncaster Mile is the first-day feature, and the note in the Listed event goes to In Command from the Barry Hills' stable, which invariably does so well at this opening meeting.

A high class juvenile in 1996, when he won the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, In Command was restricted to only three outings last season and did not get a real chance to prove himself. The fact that he has been kept in training by Hills as a four-year-old speaks for itself, and this classy colt can do the business here.

The Brocklesby Stakes, traditionally the first two-year-old race of the season, has attracted a sizeable field. And, with no form to go on, it is purely speculative to make a choice of winner.

Going for a speedily-bred individual from a stable renowned for producing juvenile winners at the first time of asking is a fair way to start, and Principality a son of College Chapel, trained by Jack Berry, fits the bill ideally. Furthermore, he will have the assistance of Sheriff Hutton-based Kevin Darley, Britain's top freelance jockey.

The Spring Apprentice Handicap, which opens the action gives one young rider the chance to head the season's leader board for 35 minutes. And that person could be Adrian McCarthy, who teams up with the smart (and fit from hurdling) Master Beveled for his boss, David Evans.

Champion jockey, Kieren Fallon is unlikely to allow the opening day to come and go without getting his name on the winners' table.

Fallon, who misses the next two days of the Doncaster meeting due to potentially lucrative commitments in Dubai, can score on the Les Eyre-trained Bawsian, who lines up for the 'Back A Winner By Train' Handicap after two recent victories on the sand.

Barry Hills and his jockey-son Michael, responsible for In Command in the big race, can also score with Prolix (4-10), while in the Ladies Handicap make a note of the lightly-raced Vanadium Ore (4-40), who will have the accomplished Pauline Robson in the saddle.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.