Betway Lincoln Handicap 1m Str Doncaster Saturday – Run as the Lincolnshire Handicap at the county town’s venerable racecourse for over one hundred years until its closure in 1964, the race was transferred to Doncaster and became known as “The Lincoln”, where it has thrived as the first leg of the “Spring Double” ever since.
Historically, winners have come from all sections of the handicap, but recent renewals have seen a definite increase in the class of competitors, and last year a handicap mark of 96 was required to even get a run. The winner, the Richard Fahey trained Gabrial was the third of the last five winners to have been rated at 100 or above. However, despite these higher rated animals winning, big weights still have proved a serious bar to success, with Babodana in 2004, carrying the steadier of 9st10lbs the last to win with more than 9st4lbs in the plate.
Over the past decade training honours, with two wins apiece, have been shared by Messrs Quinn, Fahey,and Haggas, and the latter was also responsible for the 1992 winner. The draw has been significant with only one winner emerging from a draw higher than 17 in the last twelve years. Good form on straight tracks, particularly Newmarket has been a definite pointer. Plenty of previous winners had the benefit of a race under their belt,but thanks to modern conditioning methods, we have seen seven of the last ten winners come home in front on their seasonal debuts. So what of this years renewal?
One that immediately catches the eye is the David O’Meara trained 5yo entire, Lord Of The Land. Previously trained in France by the great Andre Fabre, for whom he won five of his ten starts, including over a straight 1m1f at Maison-Laffite. He makes his debut here for the hugely talented O’Meara, racing off a mark of 102, giving him a tough looking 9st5lbs to shoulder. However the son of Shamardal does look a highly versatile type having had the speed to win over 6 1/2f on the all weather at Deauville, and the stamina to win that 9f contest at Maison- Laffite. O’Meara has already sent out a winner with his first runner of the turf season from his new base in the village of Upper Helmsley, and looks set for another great innings, so Lord Of The Land looks one for the shortlist.
Ed Mc Mahon’s 5yo by Dylan Thomas, Express Himself, looked a progressive type until finishing out the back from a midfield draw in last years Cambridgeshire. However he got back on track three weeks later when putting up a top notch performance at Haydock. Having missed the break he came home with a wet sail and got up to beat the very useful Mitchum Swagger off a mark of 93. As the runner up went on to earn a 15lbs rise, for his close second in a listed contest, Express Himself’s new mark of 101, just 8lbs higher, looks more than reasonable. With decent form at Newmarket, and being by a sire whose offspring often improve with age, Mc Mahon’s 5yo has plenty to recommend him.
Representing the three times successful Haggas yard, the very lightly raced 5yo Mitraad looks interesting. A winner of his only two races on turf, both at Newmarket, he was last seen, on the all weather at Chelmsford last August, where he finished a close second in a Class3 handicap off a mark of 95. Only 4lbs higher at the weekend he may have got in lightly and if handling the cut and thrust of a 22 runner handicap could be involved at the business end.
The 4yo Udodontu ran a great race in last years Brittannia Stakes at Royal Ascot. Trained by Richard Guest he finished a close second off a mark of 88. Now in the hands of Saeed bin Suroor he wasn’t seen again until trotting up off a mark of 94 at Meydan in January. Raised another 8lbs to 102 he was only headed inside the last 50yds at the same venue four weeks later. He races off the same mark on Saturday and sure to have benefited from his winter holiday in the Dubai sunshine he is another well worth considering.
Harry Dunlop’s lightly raced 4yo Storm Rock won a Leicester handicap off a mark of 87 last October and nine days later nearly defied a 15lbs rise when going down by a neck to the year older You’re Fired. He meets the winner on 2lbs better terms at the weekend and as considerable improvement from three to four can be expected he is another who looks well handicapped.
Selection : Lord Of The Land
E.W. : Storm Rock