Kevin Darley recalls his shock Lincoln winner Roving Minstrel at Doncaster


There have been loads of shocks during the history of the Lincoln Handicap – and 25 years ago Kevin Darley prompted a different when steering Roving Minstrel to glory in the traditional curtain raiser to the Flat season.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, nine: 54 pm

Kevin Darley. Copyright: PA (Push Association)

This year’s renewal, which was scheduled for Saturday, is a single of several races cancelled mainly because of the coronavirus outbreak.

That does not cease now-retired previous champion jockey Darley, who rode many more substantial winners than Roving Minstrel, remembering his accomplishment in the prestigious handicap as substantial in its have ideal.

“Back then we didn’t have the volume and top quality of all-weather conditions racing like we have now, so that very first conference at Doncaster was a genuine aim point,” stated Yorkshire-dependent Darley.

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“For me as a youthful lad growing up, that’s why the Lincoln was established out in my intellect as just one of the big races of the yr – it kicked the total time off.

“We all utilised to think again then ‘it’s Doncaster coming up – and will I get a experience in the Lincoln?’.”

Roving Minstrel was not, as the phrase goes, a handicapper masquerading as a Group horse.

However, in spite of starting off at odds of 33-1, Darley was offered a good deal of encouragement by trainer Bryan McMahon that he was not on the no-hoper bookmakers experienced priced up.

Darley, who went on to be crowned winner jockey in 2000, was joyful to take the canny McMahon at his phrase.

“Bryan was a great coach – and he knew how to get one all set,” he stated.

“Even even though he was 33-1, I realized that he fancied the horse very strongly. He was a correct shrewdy and was a actual great aged-fashioned trainer.

“I was struggling for my pounds, because I had to ride 8st 3lb – which was about my bare minimum – and it was the to start with time I sat on the horse, and I did not know what colour he was till I observed him.

“(But) if a person claims that a horse is doing everything right at house it was encouraging enough to imagine he would operate well.”

With a get ratio of just two victories from his former 16 outings and endurance to prove on his initial start off above the vacation, Roving Minstrel desired a lot to go his way – and it did

Darley extra: “He was not the most real of horses and he was one particular of those people types of horses in which everything experienced to fall correct. I just can’t complain, though, since he gave me my only Lincoln winner.”

“I just thought he was probably floating close to in entrance, but luckily when the next arrived to me he stuck with him and saved likely. Bryan was quite optimistic he would stay.

“We ended up in the direction of the center of the track, but I cannot say it was a huge element of a strategic approach to uncover much better floor – because in these races you frequently get that, with horses coming from both equally angles.”

Darley believes motion wants to be taken to restore the Lincoln’s status – with the excellent of all-temperature racing and an rising selection of profitable meetings abroad combining to cut down its limelight.

“These major handicaps are very hard to earn, and this is one particular of the greatest races early in the season,” he explained.

“I assume anything demands to be done to convey it back again to its glory times, since I really feel the impetus has been missing a minimal little bit. It is a fantastic assembly, and just one all jockeys glance forward to.

“It is a great way to commence the time off – and it places you in a excellent frame of head for the initial number of months if you are fortunate more than enough to earn it.”

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