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Racing: Expresso in hurry to see the bookies hammered; In association with www.flybe.com.

Byline: MARTIN KELLY, PA SPORT

Expresso Star got punters off to a flying start in the first major betting race of the 2009 Flat season, bounding home in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster.

John Gosden's representative had been nibbled at in the antepost market all though the winter and his odds collapsed after an eyecatching piece of work in Newmarket last week.

After Gosden's team checked that the groundwas suitableand gave the four-year-old the thumbs-up to race, he jumped away as the 100-30 favourite in the one-mile cavalry charge.

Jimmy Fortune struck the lead well over two furlongs outand his two-and-a-half-length success cost the betting industry an estimated pounds 2million, just seven days before the Grand National.

Last season's Victoria Cup winner, Zaahid, took runner-up honours, while Wolverhampton Lincoln trial victor Flipando was a length-and-a-quarter down in third. WithGosden attending the DubaiWorldCup, his racing secretary Peter Shoemark was on hand to collect the prize.

He said:"We walked the course just before the first race and we were pleasantly surprised.

"We found it was more good ground than good to firm, so we spoke to the boss in Dubai and he gave us the all-clear.

"The ground and the trip was a bit of a concern but he has done the job well."

Shoemark and Fortune were both keen to play down the significance of Expresso Star's recent gallop at Headquarters.

Shoemark added: "He worked with Charm School and Transcend.

The other two weren't asked to do an awful lot but Expresso was ahead of them, although they weren't asked to go away. We planned to see how we got on today and take it from there. We will have a look at the programme - and see what the handicapper thinks!"

Fortune, who was winning the race for the third time following back-to-back successes at the turn of the century, said: "I think he will be better at a mile-and-aquarter with give in the ground, and hopefully he can progress to Listed company.

"He was progressive last year and won his final three starts by big margins. There was nothing to hide, really. He had every right to be favourite on last year's form."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 30, 2009
Words:365
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