GODOLPHIN have changed the habits of a lifetime and, for the first time, targeted Saturday’s William Hill Lincoln Handicap, saddling two runners for good measure. The pick of the duo may be MAN OF ACTION (3.15), the conqueror of pre-race favourite Eton Forever over course and distance at the St Leger meeting last September, and now equipped with first-time blinkers (usually wears a visor). Man of Action really bounced off the quick ground that day and it is to be hoped the track is not overwatered, as the clerk of the course has had the taps on all week. Stablemate Start Right, also fit from Meydan, is worth a look. Given William Haggas’ excellent record in the race (won with Very Wise in 2007 and Penitent two years ago), his representative Fury is also on the shortlist.
The Lincoln fixture was always a happy hunting ground for Barry Hills and son Charles will be keen to continue the family tradition with KAAFEL (4.20) in the 1m 2f maiden. The Nayef colt was an expensive odds-on failure at Leicester in October on the back of his excellent debut the previous month at Newbury when beaten a neck in a 15-runner maiden.
Whatever the fate of Godolphin’s twin Lincoln assault, the boys in blue will be out to uphold local honour at the Dubai World Cup fixture taking place simultaneously in the Gulf. Capponi, a wide-margin, all-the-way winner last time is probably the pick of their four runners in the ‘big one’ but he won’t find it so easy to dominate in this company. The race could unfold perfectly for SO YOU THINK (6.40), a good friend to the bookmakers on more than one occasion last season but still capable of mopping up the Coral-Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes. The former Aussie superstar was kept busy at the highest level and should have benefited from a winter break. What’s more, Aidan O’Brien’s representative may well be at his very best over this 1m 2f trip and there don’t appear too many genuine Group 1 performers in opposition. Joseph O’Brien is in the hot-seat and there is no doubt the trainer’s son will be under the spotlight riding here as Ballydoyle’s No 1. No pressure there, then.
Young O’Brien was seen at his very best at Churchill Downs last autumn, unleashing ST NICHOLAS ABBEY (6.00) with a devastating turn of foot to scoop the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the combination must go close in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Frankie Dettori is unlikely to leave the meeting empty-handed and OPINION POLL (2.45) can avenge his recent defeat by stablemate Fox Hunt, the mount of Silvestre De Sousa. Fox Hunt, formerly with Mark Johnston, enjoyed a fitness advantage over Opinion Poll that day and the longer distance of two miles will probably suit the Ascot Gold Cup runner-up marginally the better, although it could be quite a tussle.
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