GABRIAL showed a touch of class and the heart for a battle to win the Betway Lincoln at Doncaster.
Richard Fahey’s streetwise, but often unpredictable, six-year-old was delivered with a well-timed challenge by Tony Hamilton to take the first major prize of the Flat turf season at 12-1.
Mondialiste proved a determined foe for the David O’Meara team, but once that rival was subdued, Gabrial was in pole position, eventually winning by a neck. Moohaarib finished third, with What About Carlo fourth.
It was a second Lincoln in four years for Hamilton, Fahey and owner Dr Marwan Koukash, and the latter was delighted. “When I started off in racing, I always wanted to win the big handicaps, Cesarewitch, Ayr Gold Cup and the Lincoln," said Koukash.
“When I first met Richard, I asked what race he would like to win the most and he said it was this one. Now we've done it twice."
Fahey said: “They raced in a very tight pack and I wasn't sure he was going to get out in time. That's the first time I've ever seen him really pin his ears back and have a real go as he's a bit of a character.
“Tony said he always felt like he was going to win. The only reason he was running over further last year was because, after Mount Athos got injured, Marwan wanted a Melbourne Cup horse but he didn't stay.
“He's a Listed winner and, while I doubt he's getting better, we'll hatch a plan and see where we go. I presume it will be Chester.”
Earlier, Tullius was sent off the 1-2 favourite to win Betway Doncaster Mile, but had to work hard for the victory. Having been placed in the Lincoln off top weight 12 months ago, Andrew Balding’s likeable chestnut finished second to Olympic Glory in the Lockinge at Newbury, and that race could be on his agenda again.
Chatez took the Betway Spring Mile. Having looked a promising juvenile hurdler before Christmas, a couple of flops saw Alan King abandon that route and his decision paid off handsomely yesterday.
King’s charge, a 14-1 chance, came with a wet sail under Fergus Sweeney and pulled three lengths clear of Buckstay for victory.