Doncaster’s Lincoln Handicap heralds the start of the 2012 turf flat season and 22 go to post for the 1st Leg of the Spring Double. The market is headed by last year’s winner of the consolation event Eton Forever and Guineas’ fifth Fury although the latter would have preferred softer ground. The former remains largely unexposed after only eight career starts, goes well fresh and has a 6lb pull with Man Of Action on course and distance running back in September.
Godolphin have a couple of interesting runners both in first-time headgear with Start Right (3.15) in a visor for the first time making plenty of appeal. He has a high draw which I consider a positive on good ground and as long as there is plenty of pace on his side I think he must go close for the Boys In Blue.
We have a special promotion at BetVictor to mark the beginning of the turf season: place a win bet of £20 or more on the Lincoln (3.15) and if your selection finishes 2nd, 3rd or 4th we will refund your losing £20 as a free bet on the World’s Richest Race the Dubai World Cup due off later in the day at 6.40.
The jury is out whether it was the trip that beat Bannock (2.40) at Lingfield (7f) last week and he faces a difficult task against his elders including Sirius Prospect and Royal Rock who were both in terrific form when last seen at the end of last season.
Both are likely to improve for the run and I just feel that if jockey Joe Fanning can get his fractions right he has the perfect draw to make most under the stand rail especially having had that run to blow the cobwebs away at Lingfield last weekend.
Charlie Hills has his string in cracking form and this is a meeting his father always liked to have his share of winners; Captain Bertie was quite highly regarded last year, goes well fresh and can bounce back from a couple of modest efforts at the end of the season. It is possible though that this straight mile might test his stamina and Shamdarley (2.05) is another open to more improvement this year and is given the nod in a terrific opener.
Aidan O’Brien has only had one previous runner (Cape Blanco 2011) in the Dubai World Cup and it is one of the few major races missing from his glittering CV. The maestro of Ballydoyle saddles So You Think (6.40) who won the Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes in his first season since leaving Australia where he was an equine superstar.
O’Brien had a welcome winner on Wednesday but had 16 losers prior to that run and without a run on the Tapeta surface he cannot be a confident selection. The Japanese had a 1-2 last year and they are well represented again with front-running Smart Falcon and last year’s runner up Transcend. The former has won his last nine all on dirt and how he copes with this surface is anyone’s guess.
Danedream landed the Arc for Germany back in October and Zazou must have every chance of doubling up but the story of the race is Game On Dude runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last autumn and trained by American legend Bob Baffert who suffered a heart attack on Monday night in Dubai. Thankfully Baffert appears to be on the mend and the gelding will be ridden by model/actress/jockey Chantal Sutherland the first female to ride in the race. Drawn in stall 14 it looks an impossible task but it would be some story.
The Sheema Classic is run on turf and O’Brien is doubly represented with Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach joining Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey in a terrific race. Beaten Up (6.00) is a horse I have followed since his Ripon maiden win and will continue to do so until he meets with defeat. It is possible that this august company is just too hot for the unbeaten gelding but he has a nice draw in three and could be anything.
Rocket Man (4.35) won the sprint last year and was runner up in 2010 and he can follow up although Aussie speedball Sepoy is expected to give the likely favourite plenty to think about.
The weekend nap runs at Stratford in the 5.00 with Time For Spring who ran a cracker at Cheltenham just over a fortnight ago and will appreciate this sharper track/test for Charlie Longsdon. The selection has had a long season but palpably failed to get home at Cheltenham in the Kim Muir and has been dropped 2lbs in the handicap.