With 22 runners lining up for the first big handicap on grass, of the flat racing season, Saturday’s Lincoln, looks a tough nut to crack. However some pretty strong trends have emerged in more recent renewals, not least that 9 of the last ten winners have come from the the relatively narrow weight band of 8-12 to 9-4. Four year olds have been the dominant age group, winning five times in the same period, and indeed have won the last three runnings of The Lincoln. Good form over a straight mile continues to be a definite plus, and trainers with good previous form in the race are always worth noting. Richard Fahey has won twice in the last decade, and canny John Quinn, landed the race for the second time in 2013, but the handler with the most outstanding recent record in the contest has been David O’Meara. He trained the runner up in 2015, the 4th home in 2016, the winner in 2017, and last year’s runner up, Lord Glitters, all of which has to make his recent stable import, Humbert, of particular interest.
Previously trained by Hugo Palmer, for whom he won 4 of his 12 starts, he moved to the O’Meara yard, (staying in the same ownership) at the end of January, and will be having his first run for the yard on Saturday. It’s worth noting that David’s previous winner, Bravery, followed a similar path, making his debut for the stable in The Lincoln. Humbert ran an excellent race over Saturday’s course and distance in last year’s Spring Mile, going down by a neck to High Acclaim, and put in another sterling effort 4 weeks later over Newbury’s straight mile, when going down by a neck to Taqdeer in the 22 runner Spring Cup off a mark of 94. He went on to win a Class2 Newcastle Handicap (AW) off a mark of 97 in June before losing his form in his last two races. If recapturing his previous excellent form, and he’s in the right yard to do it, the son of Kodiac looks fairly handicapped on Saturday’s mark of 98, giving him a racing weight of 8-12 and has plenty in his favour.
Charlie Appleby (pictured) won with the 4yo, Secret Brief three years ago, and favourite backers will be hoping that he can do so again with the current market leader, another 4yo, Auxerre. Lightly raced, the son of Iffraaj has won 3 of his 4 starts, and pretty comfortably won his first attempt in a handicap off a mark off 93 last October, (Kempton 1m AW). Out of the Daylami mare, Roscoff, he is a half brother to the two listed winning fillies, Isabel De Urbina and Manuela De Vega, as well as the very useful Hong Kong handicapper, Hero Look. He certainly lacks nothing on the breeding front and looks quite well handicapped on a mark of 100 giving him a racing weight of 9-00. The only question is, how will he cope with Saturday’s Cavalry charge up the Doncaster mile?
Having moved from Andrew Balding, the 5yo, South Seas, will be making his debut for Philip Kirby. The son of Lope De Vega was a very promising 2yo, winning his first 3 races including the Group3 Solario Stakes, and coming 2nd in a French Group1. However he failed to catch the judges eye in any of his subsequent 9 starts but did run better in the last two, going down by 2 1/2L to Enigmatic (rec20 lbs) off a mark of 102, and by 5 1/2L to Sharja Bridge off the same mark, in Ascot’s Balmoral Handicap last October. The handicapper has cut him some slack with a mark of 100 on Saturday, and if his excellent new trainer, and change of scenery, can eke out a little more improvement he could be interesting.
The ex Godolphin horse, Saltonstall had some interesting form when trained by Mick Halford in Ireland, particularly when gaining his sole handicap success at The Curragh last May. Racing off a mark of 98 he won pretty comfortably and had the now rated 103 Massif Centrale (gave 2lbs) 3 1/4L back in 3rd.
He joined the upwardly mobile team of County Dublin Handler, Adrian McGuinness, (current strike rate 44%) at the end of January, goes well after a break, and looks well handicapped on a mark of 100 giving him a racing weight of 9-00.
The Andrew Balding trained Zwayyan has won 6 of his 21 starts and made a good start to the current campaign when comfortably taking a Class2 Wolverhampton Handicap off a mark of 97, 11 days ago. He has won over Ascot’s straight mile and usually improves for a run so could be interesting.
John Quinn will be hoping to win the race for a third time, with the 6yo son of Fast Company, Safe Voyage. A winner of 6 of his 16 starts, he has been mostly campaigned at distances short of a mile, (unsuccessful in both attempts at the trip) but looked as if he would stay a mile when winning a valuable 16 runner handicap on yielding ground at last Summers Galway Festival over 7f. In a fast run heat for the conditions, he made eye catching headway up the stiff Ballybrit hill, and kept on strongly to land the spoils. The messages from his pedigree are mixed, but his half brother, Lyrics Lion, stayed 10f and Mr Quinn certainly knows what is required.
The David Barron trained Kynren is attracting plenty of attention in the markets, and the son of Clodovil meets Humbert on 3 lbs better terms for the 2 1/2L he was behind him in last year’s Spring Mile over course and distance. He improved steadily through the course of last season so could be well treated on a mark of 98. He stays further than a mile and has one of the best pilots for these big field handicaps in the plate, Robert Winston.
Selection : Saltonstall
EW. : Humbert. Zwayyan.