Unibet Lincoln Handicap 1m (str) Doncaster Saturday

lincoln handicap guruWith 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. charlie appleby lincolnLightly 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.


Ado McGuinness must have a fine chance with Saltonstall

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.

John Gray

EBF &TBA Mares National Hunt Novices Hurdle Tips

nicky henderson oddsguruA contest the Master of Seven Barrows, Nicky Henderson (pictured), has won 4 times, most recently with Polly Peachum in 2013, and he goes to war with another likely looking type on Saturday with the 6yo daughter of Scorpion, She Might Bite. A winning Irish Pointer, she failed to catch the judges eye in her first four races over hurdles, but following a promising second at Sandown, on that 4th attempt in February, she looked the most likely winner when brought down at the 3rd last in a Ludlow Class3 Handicap, (3m Gd) 26 days later. Out of a winning Irish Point to Pointer, and Hurdle winner, she looks to be going the right way, and if over her fall at Ludlow has to be of interest.

The Seamus Mullins trained Maebh beat She Might Bite by 1 1/2L when the Henderson mare was making her hurdles debut last November, (Warwick 2m5f Gd) and on only 2lbs worse terms on Saturday certainly comes into the picture. However the Henderson horse has probably made the greater progress in the meantime, but it’s worth noting that Seamus won this in 2004 with Kentford Grebe so should know what is required. Having been well beaten last time over 3 miles this current 20/1 shot is easy to dismiss, but back over Saturday’s trip on Good ground, she could represent some value.

Barbury Castle Handler, Alan King (pictured) has also had success in the race, (Tante Sissi 2012) and he runs the quietly progressive 5yo, Sixties Belle. The daughter of Gold Well has only been on a racecourse four times but took a serious step forward last time when going down by 2 1/4L to Loveherandleaveher in a Huntingdon Maiden, (2m 4f Gd) 30 days ago. alan king oddsguruShowing her inexperience, she only got going between the last two obstacles and finished really strongly. Alan trained the mother, Over Sixty, to win Five times, and achieve a rating of 135, so it won’t come as any great surprise if Sixties Belle proves to be considerably better than her current mark of 111, and brings the trophy back to Barbury Castle for a second time.

The Lucy Wadham trained, The White Mouse, is 2/3 over hurdles, and the 5yo was quite impressive last time, winning a Class4 Doncaster Maiden to beat Saturday’s opponent, Oscar Rose, by 4L, 22 days ago. It was only a 3 runner affair but the time was reasonable and on 3lbs worse terms the Wadham mare should confirm the form.

Oliver Sherwood has won the race twice, (2008 & 2009) and his 6yo, Millarvillle, looks interesting. From a good Irish NH family, she won her only PTP by 8L, and had the now rated 120, It’s All A Lark, 12l back in 3rd. There are mixed messages from her 3 starts over hurdles, winning once over 2m1f, following a wind operation, but well beaten in the other two. However Saturday’s step up in trip should suit this stoutly bred mare, and a strict interpretation of her PTP win would make her look well treated on her mark of 120 at the weekend.

Jonjo O’Neill won the inaugural running in 2003 and his contender, Annie Mc, has been pretty consistent in her 5 races over hurdles, winning once, in  quite impressive fashion at Chepstow two races ago, (2m3 1/2f Good-Soft). She took it up at the second last and went clear to beat the 118 rated, Burn Baby Byrne, (rec2lbs) by 18L which makes Saturday’s mark of 127 look fair. Racing over a furlong shorter last time, in a slowly run heat, she was very disappointing, but back up in trip on Saturday, and with the benefit of the seriously talented Jonjo O’Neill junior’s 5lbs claim, she has to be worth considering.

Runners from the Perth and Kinross yard of Nick Alexander are an infrequent sight in Berkshire, so he must be dispatching his daughter of Getaway, Off The Hook, on the long journey with a little more than just wishful thinking. Despite running very consistently, on mostly testing ground, it wasn’t until her last race, her 8th attempt over hurdles, that the 7yo got her head in front. Racing on better ground for only the second time in her career, (a close 2nd on the previous occasion),  she won a tad cleverly from the now 122 rated Sam’s Adventure, (Ayr 2m4 1/2f Good-Soft 20 Jan). She races off a mark of 121 on Saturday and could be interesting.

EBF &TBA Mares National Hunt Novices Hurdle Series Final 2m4 1/2f (Handicap) Newbury Saturday.

Selection : Sixties Belle  (if abs Annie Mc)
EW.           :  Off The Hook

Oddsguru’s Fancies For Cheltenham Week

Cheltenham 2019 Festival


Arkle Chase: It often pays to forgive a horse one below par effort, and Kayley Wollacott’s Lalor, was majestic in his first race over fences, coming home 7L clear of Dynamite Dollar, over course and distance in November. He was never going when finishing a well beaten 3rd behind the same animal 20 days later at Sandown, and it may be that this German bred needs a longer break between races. A repeat of his Cheltenham effort will make him hard to beat.

Champion Hurdle: Gordon Elliott’s super mare, Apples Jade, has made further progress this term and put in a blinding performance last time, when she beat
Supasundae, Petit Mouchoir, and Melon by 16L, 5L, and 3/4L, in a fast time. With the added bonus of her 7lbs Mares allowance she looks the one to beat in this year’s renewal.


The Ballymore : For an animal bred to be a 3 mile Chaser, (his grand dam is the mother of Best Mate and Cornish Rebel) Nicky Henderson’s Champ, has shown plenty of pace in his 4 hurdles victories, particularly last time in The Challow Hurdle at Newbury where he quickened impressively. With no stamina doubts, it will take a good one to lower his colours.

RSA Chase: The Gordon Elliott trained Delta Work, has won all of his 3 starts over fences, including a defeat of the subsequent Double Grade1 winner, Le Richebourg in the top Graded  Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse over an inadequate 2 1/2m in December. Impressive form and he will be hard to beat.

Wetherby’s Champion Bumper : Both Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen and Willie Mullins’s sole entry, Blue Sari are respected, but the Harry Fry trained, Get In The Queue, is an animal going from strength to strength, and won last time by 16L conceding 16lbs to the runner up.

harry fry cheltenham

Get in the Queue for Harry Fry’s descendant of Daylami

The form is nothing special but the manner of the victory was impressive and the time was good.


Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle: Anyone who took our advice after Paisley Park won The Cleeve Hurdle in January will be sitting pretty. His victory by 12L and 2L over West Approach and Black Op was hugely impressive and Emma Lavelle’s winner of his last 4 races looks banker material.


Triumph Hurdle : The Joseph O’Brien trained Sir Erec was good enough on the flat to get within 2 1/2L of Stradivarius in Ascot’s Group2 Long Distance Cup Over 2miles last October, and having moved to Joseph from dad, Aidan at Ballydoyle, has proved at least as talented over hurdles, winning the Grade1 Tattersalls Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown last month. He won with his head in his chest, from stable companion Gardens Of Babylon, and had the 2nd Fav, Tiger Tap Tap, 8 1/4L back in 4th. Despite a slight training setback, (stone bruise which trainer Joseph assures will not affect his chance) he looks a good thing.

Gold Cup: Is Kemboy (pictured) the forgotten horse of this year’s Gold Cup? By the excellent French NH stallion, Voix Du Nord, (sadly deceased) who has sired plenty of top class jumpers, including Taquin Du Seuil, Vibrato Valtat, Vroum Vroum Mag, and
Defi Du Seuil, to name but a few, the Willie Mullins trained 7yo looks an improved performer this term. kemboy cheltenhamHe has won both his races including the Grade1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown (3m Good Leopardstown Dec 28) where he beat Monalee by 7L and had Road To Respect back in 3rd with Bellshill 4th. His defeat in last year’s JLT was down to some indifferent jumping but he looks much more the finished article this term, and only 7, still has plenty of further potential. He might just be the one to supply Willie with that elusive victory in Cheltenham’s Blue Riband.

John Gray

Match Book Imperial Cup Tips Handicap 2m Sandown

imperial cup oddsWith only 5 animals older than seven collecting in the last 70 years, this is definitely a heat for the less exposed, younger horse. In recent renewals weight has also played it’s part, as only one winner, (the now sadly departed London Prize in 2017) has carried more than 10-13 in the last 15 years. The Pipe family have an outstanding record in the race, with dad, Martin, leading up the winner six times and son David three. They have also managed to land the bonus, (£100,000 last year, on offer to any animal who wins a race at The Cheltenham Festival the following week) on three occasions, all of which has to make this year’s sole representative from Pond House, Extra Mag, of particular interest.

A 5yo son of the successful NH stallion, Kapgarde, Extra Mag has only been on a racecourse 4 times, and has quite an impressive 50% record. He won a modest maiden on the flat in the French Provinces before coming to Pond House last November.

david pipe imperial

David Pipe with father Martin

He made his British debut in a Wetherby Novices the same month, where, despite starting as an unfancied 14/1 shot, he had the race firmly in his grasp when unseating at the last. He made amends next time, despite some sticky jumping, and another stumble at the last, he comfortably won an Exeter Novices. Sent off the 6/4 joint Fav at Kempton six weeks ago, he had no answer to the Henderson trained, other co favourite, Precious Cargo,(Rec 7lbs) and was beaten by 3 1/4L. However, he did do enough to get into Saturday’s contest on the attractive mark of 132, leaving him on bottom weight of 10-0, (assuming top weight Call Me Lord takes up the engagement). With multiple entries for the 5yo at next weeks Festival, Family Pipe may just be dreaming of landing that bonus for a 4th time.

Nicky Henderson’s Top Weight, Call Me Lord, was only beaten a neck in last year’s renewal off a mark of 152, and has a tough looking task this time off an 8lbs higher mark. He did however earn that higher mark with a convincing win in a Sandown Grade2 over 5 1/2f further next time, beating Lil Rockerfeller by 16L. He made his seasonal debut in Ascots Grade1 JLT over 3m1/2f, and it looks as if connections feel that his future lies over staying trips, so Mr Henderson’s best chance of landing a second Imperial Cup, (won with the 6yo Daves Dream in 2009) would seem to lie with his second runner, another 6yo, Dream Du Grand Val.

Ex French, the 6yo failed to catch the judges eye in any of his 6 races over hurdles in his home country (placed three times) but since joining the Seven Barrows operation has won two of his three starts. Making his debut for the yard at Cheltenham in November, he put in a decent enough effort, finishing a respectable 6/20, despite taking a pretty strong hold, and some indifferent jumping. He was again pretty keen 72 days later when winning at Fontwell, but then had little difficulty landing the odds At Kelso last time, where he had the 119 rated Point Break (rec6lbs) 14L back in 3rd. His mark of 139 at the weekend, giving him a racing weight of 10-5, (so long as stable companion Call Me Lord stays in) looks very fair, and with entries in The County Hurdle and The Martin Pipe at The Festival, Dream Du Grand Val, (as low as 14/1 for The County) could be another with one eye on that bonus.

The Jane Williams trained Monsieur Lecoq has a very progressive profile, and following a pretty impressive performance over course and distance last time, deserves his place at the top of Saturday’s market. Making his handicap debut on a mark of 122, the 5yo took it up before the 2nd last, after which the result was never in doubt, and the son of Diamond Boy, won by 9L from the 128 rated, Our Merlin, and had the 135 rated, Eragon De Chanay a further 8L back in 3rd. Saturday’s mark of 132, putting him on 10-0 (2lbs out of the handicap) looks very fair, and Lizzie Kelly’s 3lbs allowance will be an added bonus.

The Kim Bailey trained 7yo, First Flow, hasn’t been on a racecourse since being pulled up in last year’s Supreme Novices at The Festival, but had impressed in his previous race, when winning Haydock’s Grade2, Rossington Main Novices Hurdle by 10l from the now rated 157 Midnight Shadow, (2mHeavy). A strict interpretation of that form would make him look thrown in on Saturday’s mark of 148, (the runner up has since improved) but nevertheless, he does look attractively weighted on 10-10 particularly if the ground turns heavy and the stable is in good form.

Harry Fry has done well with the ex flat racer, Winston C who has won 2 of his 3 starts over hurdles for the Dorset trainer, including last time, when winning a Class3 Novices over Saturday’s course and distance 5 weeks ago. There is  nothing special about the form but he was giving the now rated 129 runner up 6lbs and with his talented trainer in form is worth considering.

The Fergal O’Brien trained 6yo Benny’s Bridge made his handicap debut a winning one when coming home 2 3/4L clear of Flash Of Steel in a Cheltenham Class2 6 weeks ago. The form has worked out quite well and even from 8lbs out of the handicap, if getting a run, (needs 2 above him to come out) could be interesting, particularly as there seems to be plenty of support for him in the Markets.

Selection: Monsieur Lecoq

EW.          : Extra Mag,  Dream Du Grand Val

John Gray