FLAT RACING on the turf is back with a bang at Doncaster this weekend with the Lincoln Handicap taking centre stage.
William Haggas has confirmed last year’s winner Addeybb will not line up in this year’s cavalry charge leaving AUXERRE, winner of his last three starts, as one of the shortest-priced favourites for years at 7/2.
The average rating of the winner since 2000 is 97, but that’s creeping upwards all the time as the Lincoln begins to have the look of a Group race, rather than being merely a stepping stone for horses with such aspirations. And that has made finding a winner very tricky with only six jollies going in from the last 20 runnings.
But since the year 2000, 13 of the 19 Lincoln winners came into the race fresh after a break of 126 days or more which is a trend that could well continue this year, with the six horses at the top of the market – AUXERRE, KYNREN, HUMBERT, RIPP ORF, SALTONSTALL and SOUTH SEAS – all going into the race on the back of a break of five months or more.
A stable switch has also been a key pointer in recent years. In 2006 Blythe Knight won the Lincoln at Redcar on his first start for John Quinn having previously been trained by Ed Dunlop, while Quinn repeated the feat seven years later having picked up Levitate from Alan McCabe.
The most significant first-time-for-a-new-yard winner with this year’s renewal in mind, though, is the 2017 hero, BRAVERY, who was running his stable debut for David O’Meara who got him from Aidan O’Brien’s.
This year O’Meara runs Lincoln plunge horse HUMBERT for the first time having acquired him from Hugo Palmer’s, while REMARKABLE could also represent the North Yorkshire handler on his first run since leaving John Gosden.
Phil Kirby is set to run the former Andrew Balding-trained SOUTH SEAS for the first time as well, and this one-time smart performer has been given a real opportunity by the handicapper.
Now off 100 having been 110 at his peak, Jamie Spencer is an eye-catching booking for a yard that has provided the former champion jockey with two wins from only six rides to date, while Adrian McGuinness is set to unleash the well-backed SALTONSTALL on his first start since leaving Mick Halford’s.
Tomorrow’s (Saturday) card on Town Moor also features the traditional first race of the year for two-year-olds. The Brocklesby Stakes is therefore a clean slate from a form point of view, so other factors, including the pedigrees of the runners, take precedence.
KILHAM ticks plenty of boxes, with a February foaling date and from Declan Carroll’s stable which won a division of the Brocklesby two years ago with the ill-fated Santry who went on to finish second in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A 62,000 guinea yearling, he’s among the most expensive of these as might be expected of a colt by Pivotal out of an Invincible Spirit mare. His dam Russian Heroine won a couple of six-furlong handicaps for Sir Michael Stoute in the Cheveley Park Stud colours and was a daughter of the same connections’ 1000 Guineas winner Russian Rhythm who had been a smart two-year-old herself, winning the Princess Margaret and Lowther Stakes.
The Cammidge Trophy is another prestigious Listed race with DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT and market leader INVINCIBLE ARMY just two of the class acts on show but a drop back to six furlongs could suit Hugo Palmer’s ARBALET. His sire Dark Angel has produced top class sprinters like Battash, Mecca’s Angel and Harry’s Angel and at 5’s he’s an each way bet to nothing.