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.

GOWRAN

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

William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group1) 1m6 1/2f Doncaster Saturday

st leger historyFirst run in 1776, the St Leger is the World’s oldest classic. Contested over an extended 1m6f the race is invariably run at a sustained pace, and when turning in, the runners face a relentless battle up Doncaster’s long attritional strait, putting a huge emphasis on stamina. Non stayers don’t win the St Leger! Training honours in the modern era, with five victories apiece are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor and Aidan O’Brien, while the riding accolade goes to Frankie Dettori who only needs to hit the back of the net twice more to equal the immortal Lester Piggot’s seven wins, and he looks to have excellent prospects of getting one closer on the John Gosden (4 St Leger winners to his credit) trained filly, Lah Ti Dar.

a mug of Lester Pigott from june 1962

Lester won the St Leger on seven occasions

Unraced as a 2yo, the daughter of Dubawi has gone from strength to strength in her three races. She made her racecourse debut in April, hosing up in a lowly Class4 Newbury Maiden (1m2f Gd/Sft) and 16 days later took a big step up in class to win the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes (1m2f Gd/Fm) in equally impressive style at Newmarket. Further progress was evident last time when stepped up in trip she spread eagled a decent field in the Listed Galtres Stakes (1m4f Gd/Fm) at York 23 days ago, winning by 10L. More will be required at the weekend, but as a Daughter of the super mare,
Dare Re Mi, who was twice successful at the top level, including when winning the 2010 renewal of the Group1 12f Sheema Classic from the legendary Japanese Mare Buena Vista, (won over £10 million pounds in prize money) there should be plenty more to come from the Gosden filly. With only seven post war victories for Fillies in the final Classic, (Meld 1955 Cantelo1959 Dunfermline 1977 Sun Princess 1983 Oh So Sharp 1985 User Friendly 1992 and controversially, Simple Verse three years ago) the stats aren’t exactly encouraging but the 3lbs sex allowance is certainly a bonus in such a testing heat.

andrew balding st leger

Andrew Balding’s Maid Up has great each way claims

The only other filly in Saturday’s field is the Andrew Balding trained Maid Up, and she has demonstrated she has the requisite stamina for Saturday’s test, going down by a Shd over 14f in a Goodwood Group2 at the beginning of August, and comfortably winning the Group3 Lilly Langtry Stakes, run at a good clip, over the same course and distance 22days ago. This stoutly bred filly has a very progressive profile, and having paid plenty to supplement her, connections will be hoping, at the very least, to land some place money.

The Charlie Appleby trained Old Persian stayed on gamely to win the Group2 Great Voltigeur Stakes (1m4f) at York 24 days ago by a head from stable companion Cross Country with the current St Leger market leader, Kew Gardens, who was conceding 2lbs, 1 3/4L back in 3rd. While this was a considerable advance on his 6th in the Irish Derby there isn’t much in his pedigree to suggest that Saturday’s trip will bring further improvement, and it is 11 year’s since a Great Voltigeur winner (Lucarno 2007) went on to collect at Doncaster.

At the time of writing Kew Gardens heads a 7 strong challenge from Ballydoyle and following that effort in the Great Voltigeur last time is a warm order to give Aidan O’Brien a 6th victory in the race. The son of Galileo showed how well suited he is by Saturday’s trip when running away with The Queen’s Vase at The Royal Meeting in June and further enhanced his stamina credentials when winning the Group1
Grand Prix De Paris (1m4f Good) in July. In a fast run heat he kept on strongly to assert in the final 50yds where he had Saturday’s opponent, Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in third.
2lbs better off with Old Persian and with Ballydoyle back in top form he is going to be difficult to beat.

Aidan’s son, Joseph is hoping to become the first handler who has ridden a winner of the Classic, (Leading Light 2013) to train one, since Harry Wragg brought off the double with Intermezzo in 1969, and he must have a serious chance of doing so with his Irish Derby winner Latrobe. The son of Camelot kept on really well to keep his dad’s Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior at Bay in The Curragh Classic, and is easily forgiven his poor effort in the 10f Juddmonte International last time where the trip was too short. There are mixed messages from his pedigree but his half brother, Entangling, stayed quite well, albeit at a modest level, and his full brother, Pink Dogwood, currently racing as a 2yo, shapes like a stayer.

Selection  : Lah Ti Dar.   (If abs) Kew Gardens
E.W.            : Maid Up
John Gray

Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap 1m1f Newmarket Tips (Row) Saturday

Sadly, last week’s Ayr Gold Cup was lost to the weather, but happily it has been reincarnated as the 32Red Gold Cup, albeit with a maximum of only seventeen runners, and will be run at Haydock Park on Saturday. I would be perfectly happy that both of last week’s selections, Shanghai Glory and Johnny Barnes, should still have decent chances at the rescheduled venue, but perhaps the Merseyside track will favour the former.

Saturday also sees the 136th renewal of the first leg of the Autumn Double, The Cambridgeshire Handicap, and with the great open spaces of Newmarket Heath at their disposal a maximum field of 35 can be accommodated. Usually run with the throttle full out from flagfall, the contest is invariably won by an animal with a high cruising speed, and has the stamina to last every last inch of the punishing Rowley course, so not surprisingly it is often won by a contender with proven form over further than 9 furlongs. Weight as always is a very significant factor with only six animals in the last forty years winning with more than 9-4 in the plate. Indeed five of the last seven winners carried 8-9 or less. With good recent form a prerequisite, and a proven track record over a straight course, a definite positive, last week’s Newbury winner Brorocco certainly fulfils plenty of the necessary criteria.

Trained by Andrew Balding (pictured) the 4yo son of Shirocco, travelled supremely well in midfield in the 10f Newbury contest, until pilot David Probert asked him to quicken two furlongs out, and he came with a very smooth run to win very comfortably indeed from co/favourite Fidaawy. He is only 4lbs higher on Saturday giving him a nice racing weight of 8-7, and so long as the ground doesn’t go against him, (has never won on anything softer than good) must have a great chance.

Should conditions deteriorate Andrew’s other runner, Naval Warfare shouldn’t be too inconvenienced. The 3yo son of Born To Sea thrived on the good/soft ground when winning a 1mile Class2 Newmarket Handicap on the July course in August off a mark of 92, and again looked a useful individual, who needed further, when beaten less than a length in a 1m Sandown Listed race ten days ago. He races on Saturday off 93 giving him a racing weight of 8-7 and is worth considering particularly if conditions deteriorate.

The David Menuisier trained Thundering Blue has gone up 17lbs on official figures over his last three races, and judging by the way he stormed home in the last hundred yards at Sandown four weeks ago there is probably plenty more to come from the 4yo son of Exchange Rate. A slight concern would be that he seemed to need all of the 10f at Sandown but this should be negated by the likely greater pace and softer ground on Saturday. He races off 93 at the weekend only 6lbs higher than Sandown, giving him a racing weight of 8-7 and looks a worthy favourite.

The David Simcock trained 3yo, Bless Him, won the Britannia Stakes over Ascot’s straight mile in June, but wasn’t seen again until contesting a Goodwood Group3 over an inadequate 7f where he made little impact, five weeks ago. However the colt’s win at the Royal meeting was impressive, and as a son of Sea The Stars out of a Refuse To Bend mare, the extra furlong on Saturday May well bring further improvement, and even on a 10lbs higher mark than Ascot is worth considering.

The willie Haggas trained 3yo, Novoman won a 10f York Handicap off a mark of 86 in July, and six weeks later won a 10 1/2f Goodwood Handicap off an 8lbs higher mark. Clearly progressive the son of Sir Prancealot doesn’t look badly treated off a five pounds higher mark and could get involved.

The Michael Appleby trained Big Country put up a very solid performance when running the talented Ballet Concerto To 3/4L in a Twenty runner York handicap in July as the winner won his next two races, both at Group3 level. Very well bred, by High Chaparral out of a Danehill mare he could make his presence felt.

Unraced as a 2yo, The Sir Michael Stoute trained El Hayem won his maiden over Doncaster’s straight mile on his second racecourse appearance as a 3yo, at odds of 25/1, and has put up some decent handicap performances including beating that useful yardstick, GM Hopkins by a neck off a mark of 92 in July (1m). He was only fifth last time in a York handicap (1m) but certainly didn’t help his cause by dwelling in the stalls at the start. Given plenty of time by his canny trainer he looks well treated on a mark of 96 giving him a racing weight of 8-10 and is well worth considering.

Selection: Brorocco

E.W. : Thundering Blue

John Gray

The Oddsguru fancies Andrew Balding's 4yo Duretto to run a bold race on Saturday.

Old Newton Cup Handicap Racing Tips

bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap 1m4f Haydock Saturday – the Old Newton Handicap is well into its second century at the East Lancashire venue, and is one of the most competitive middle distance handicaps in the calendar. It invariably produces an exciting climax, not least last year, when the two Mark Johnston trained animals, Notarised and Watersmeet, fought out a thrilling finish. Having made most of the running on the good/soft surface the former prevailed by 1/2L. Both are entered again and as Maestro Johnston also trained the 2013 winner, Star Lahib, must be of serious interest.

The 5yo Notarised has had a busy time of it since his victory, running eleven times, but only getting his head in front on the one occasion, over two miles on the all weather. However he did put up a decent effort off a mark of 101 at Goodwood in May over 1m6f on his reappearance, when, racing from his preferred position at the head of the field, he only gave best in the last 100yds to the useful Kinema and Monotype, both of whom franked the form next time out. He has disappointed in his next two runs but excuses can be made. He missed the break and had no chance of getting to the front at Royal Ascot, and last week didn’t get home over the 16 1/2f of the “Pitmen’s Derby”. He is only 4lbs higher than last year and back to 12f, if able to assume his leading role, this tough customer will be hard to pass.

Last year the Oddsguru tipped Pressure Point to win the Old Newton Cup.

Stable mate Watersmeet is 6lbs better off for that 1/2L beating in last year’s renewal, and ran really well last time, finishing second off a mark of 98 in a Newmarket handicap seven weeks ago. Only 1lb higher on Saturday he looks quite well treated but with all this rain about may not be best suited by conditions.

One who won’t be inconvenienced by soft ground is (pictured) Andrew Balding’s 4yo Duretto. He ran a sound race on his reappearance at Ascot in May (12f Gd/fm) where he failed by 1 1/4L to give Saturday’s favourite, King Bolete 2lbs. He was sent off favourite next time for an Epsom handicap off a mark of 94, but losing a shoe could only finish fifth. A winner on soft ground over Ascot’s stiff 12f last July, conditions should hold no fears, so, meeting King Bolete on 6lbs better for that 1 1/4L, with conditions to suit and with a nice racing weight of 8st 11lbs on his back must have a great chance.

King Bolete himself looks a pretty progressive animal, winning tidily over course and distance last time off a mark of 94, 14lbs higher than for his first handicap win at Newbury fourteen months ago. He races off a 6lbs higher mark on Saturday, but with the weather in monsoon mode, a bigger concern would be the likely ground conditions. He did win a maiden on soft ground as a two year old but performing so well on a fast surface, there must be doubts about his ability to handle really testing conditions.

Roger Varian’s other contender, the 5yo entire by Galileo, Battersea, finished a well beaten 8th in last years renewal off a mark of 99 and tries again off a mark of 104. Campaigned in Dubai over the winter he put up some pretty decent performances, winning a handicap (1m6f good) off a mark of 98, and finishing 4th in a Group3 last time. His stamina will undoubtedly be a bonus at the weekend, but he is unproven on soft and with the steadier of 9st7lbs on his back, looks up against it.

Following an injury the Paul Webber trained 5yo Gwafa hasn’t raced on the flat for 21 months, but showed he was fully restored to health when winning the highly competitive Swinton Hurdle over the course at the beginning of May when a strongly backed 6/1 shot. In his last race on the flat in September 2014, he got to within 1 1/2L of Battersea and meets him on 9lbs better terms at the weekend. If indeed back to his best, as is strongly suggested by that blinding performance in the Swinton, he does look well handicapped. Will he handle the ground? Well he has won on “Winter” ground when winning on soft at Fakenham and Gd/Sft at Huntingdon so the omens look good.

David Simcock runs his 4yo, Desert Encounter, and this lightly raced son of Halling looks very interesting. Having raced only seven times he has won the last four. He is the type who only does the bare minimum in his races, making it extremely difficult for the handicapper to get hold of him. He has won over 14f at Newmarket, and has won twice on soft ground, so neither stamina nor the likely going should present problems. He won seven days ago on soft ground of a mark of 91 and it will come as no surprise if he finishes the season racing off a considerably higher mark. Certainly Saturday’s 96 looks “doable” and is one for the shortlist.

Selection: Duretto

E.W. : Desert Encounter (if abs. Gwafa)

Racing Betting Tips: Novices Handicap Hurdle Newbury 3.45pm Saturday

Andrew Balding's Shirocco gelding Storm Force Ten, rated 83 on the flat, looks well treated off a mark of 123.

Andrew Balding’s Shirocco gelding Storm Force Ten, rated 83 on the flat, looks well treated off a mark of 123.

After the frenetic pace of last weeks Cheltenham Festival, (hope you got on our selection, Moon Racer, in the Wetherby’s Champion Bumper) racing this week is of a more pedestrian nature. Newbury stages some competitive looking racing, not least the Doombar Novices Hurdle at 3.45, while North of the border, at Kelso the Brewers John Smith sponsor a valuable and intriguing novices handicap chase at 3.25. Paul Nicholls is the only trainer represented on Saturday to have won the Newbury contest over the past decade, although both Alan King, and Venetia Williams have had runners placed. The Nicholl’s contender this year, Celestino, has been generally dissappointing and as he is 5lbs out of the handicap at the time of writing is passed over.

The Alan King trained Gimme Five is of considerable interest. Rated 67 on the flat, he has won two of his five starts over hurdles, both times on good ground. Last time out ( Huntingdon 2m1/2f gd Oct 5 ) he made most of the running and had to be kept up to his work to win by 3/4L. In his previous race ( Fontwell 2m21/2f ) he may have been a tad unlucky as he lost a shoe, when going down by 3/4L to the useful Vosne Romanee. Both the Fontwell race and his ability to stay 2miles on the flat ( 2nd btn 3/4L Lingfield 2m Feb 2. ) would suggest that he will be well suited by Saturday’s step up in trip. With the benefit of the Lingfield pipe opener in Febuary, he is Definitley one for the shortlist.

Andrew Balding’s Shirocco gelding Storm Force Ten, rated 83 on the flat, looks well treated off a mark of 123. Last time out ( Cheltenham 2m1f soft 24 Jan ) he finished a running on 4th behind Peace and Co, Karezak, and Zarib. Although 12 1/2L behind the winner, the very useful Zarib, was only 1/2 in advance at the line. As Peace and Co went on to victory in the Triumph, and Zarib won his next race the form looks rock solid. On a point of handicapping Zarib finished a good 6th in the Fred Winter at the Festival of a mark of 133, suggesting that the Balding horse is well in here off 123.

Philip Hobbs’s Golden Doyen, was going well behind the leaders, when coming down in the Fred Winter, eight days ago. He races off the same mark,141, on Saturday and so, on the form of his penultimate race ( 17Jan Ascot 2m soft ) where he was a staying on 2nd to the Triumph runner up, Top Notch, combined with the strong likelihood of being suited by the extra distance at the weekend he is another to consider.

Seamus Mullins runs his 72 flat rated Ultimate off a mark of 123 and promises to be a decent recruit to jumping. A winner of two of his three starts over hurdles he put up a fine performance last time out. ( Sandown 2m1/2f gd/sft 7th Mar.) where staying on strongly up the Sandown hill he beat Libeccio 4L with the well backed favourite Princess Ombu (rec15lbs) a further 2 3/4L back in third. He races on Saturday off a mark only 5lbs higher than Sandown giving him a nice racing weight of 10st 8lbs. Another to consider!

Selection: Storm Force Ten.

E.W. : Ultimate.