Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at Doncaster, Kempton, Newbury and Uttoxeter.
The Lincoln is the first big handicap of the flat season and the ground is drying up all the time at Doncaster although at the time of writing it was still described as soft (good to soft places).
David O’Meara saddles the favourite Lord Of The Land (9/2 at BetVictor) who makes his British debut having been trained by Andre Fabre in France to win half his ten starts in his native country. The 5-y-old holds an entry in a Group race at Leopardstown next month so is certainly held in some regard by his new yard who are doubly represented with Birdman also in the 22-runner field.
The yard saddled the runner up in the race 12 months ago courtesy of Mondialiste who went on to win a Group 1 in Canada; it is possible that Lord Of The Land is a Group performer in a handicap but there are a couple of imponderables for me (trip, ground) and he is overlooked although he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Storm Rock would have been the selection on genuinely soft ground but my two against the field are Secret Brief and Mutarakez (2.45) with marginal preference for the latter who has not been seen out since disappointing at Royal Ascot back in the summer. The last five winners of the race have been 12/1, 20/1, 20/1, 25/1 and 16s so it has been a bit of a graveyard for punters of late; Mutarakez is 10/1 at BetVictor and Secret Brief 20/1 and remember each way five places.
I am looking forward to seeing Belardo (3.55) back on track for Roger Varian in the listed Doncaster Mile; the selection looked to be back to something like his best when runner up to Solow in the QEII at Ascot back in October and a repeat of that would make him very hard to beat. His early season target is the Group 1 Locking at Newbury next month (14/1 at BetVictor) but he has his ideal conditions and gets the vote although both Moheet and Muwaary are worthy and fascinating opponents.
I can pass on a good word for The Last Lion (4.30) in the Brocklesby although the market will undoubtedly tell us which are the most precocious of the juveniles. American trainer Wesley Ward saddles Create A Dream and this well-bred filly is sure to know her job and wears blinkers for her racecourse debut.
Mark Johnston has been carrying all before him in the 2-y-old division so far this term and as well as The Last Lion Dusker (1.55) should land the opener at Kempton despite the worst of the draw in stall nine.
Volunteer Point did us a favour at Kempton on Good Friday and looks tom have every chance in the listed Snowdrop Stakes but Redstart (4.10) can go well fresh, has a cracking draw for one who can race prominently and gets the nod for Ralph Beckett; the selection was considered good enough to contest the Guineas back in May although she hasn’t been seen out since having pulled up sore at Newmarket.
The ground should be almost good for Newbury’s jumps card and I am looking forward to the belated hurdles debut of No Heretic (2.00) for Nicky Henderson in the opener; the selection loved fast ground on the level for David Simcock and finished fifth in the Goodwood Cup back in 2013; he hasn’t run for 940 days but Nico de Boinville takes the ride and he was always a personal favourite on the flat.
The handicapper has given Fingal Bay a chance in the 3m 2f handicap chase but Greenlaw (2.35) has gone well fresh in the past and will appreciate conditions if they continue to dry out. Charlie Longsdon’s string ended a frustrating run of places with a winner at Bangor earlier in the week and first time back might be the time to catch the 10-year-old although he has never won from a mark as high as this afternoon’s.
At Uttoxeter Transient Bay (3.10) has been raised 12lbs for his latest success but he is a most progressive hurdler and can land his fourth handicap win of the campaign although he wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much at the Staffordshire track. He will be a decent chaser in time for the yard of Philip Kirby who I have a lot of time for.