The Flat season officially begins on Saturday (Yay!) with the Lincoln Handicap.
Traditionally a big betting race with some strong trends associated with it, the typical Lincoln winner looks a little like this....
TRENDS (since track renovation 2008 - 2017)
Every winner this century was aged 4-6yo
All of the last 10 winners had their last UK start in a class 2 or class 3 handicap
All of the last 10 winners had their last UK/Ireland start 120-240 days ago
All of the last 10 winners had won over 7f+
All of the last 10 winners were rated 90 - 104
8 of the last 10 winners had raced at least 13 times on the Flat (2 exceptions were lightly raced 4yo's)
3 of the last 10 winners had been running in Dubai that Winter
Just 1 winner in the last 21 years has been ridden by a claiming jockey (3lbs) - 90 rides
Just 2 winners in the last 21 years were wearing headgear (both visor) - 73 horses
18 of the last 21 winners were Irish or GB Bred (3 exceptions all US Bred)
Over the last 10 years horses that had been running on the UK All Weather since Christmas (last 110 days) are 0 wins and 9 places from 71 runners
No horse since Babur in 1957/58 has won back-to-back Lincoln's
In the last 10 years, all 40 runners that had their last run at Wolverhampton have been beaten.
In the last 10 years, all 5 female runners have finished unplaced
TRAINERS (last 15 years at Doncaster)
|Balding, A M||8||0||0%||-8.00||1||13%|
|Channon, M R||12||0||0%||-12.00||1||8%|
|Cole, P F I||8||3||38%||17.50||3||38%|
|Fahey, R A||38||2||5%||1.00||11||29%|
|Gosden, J H M||8||1||13%||-3.67||1||13%|
|Haggas, W J||6||2||33%||8.00||3||50%|
|Hannon (Jnr), Richard||4||0||0%||-4.00||1||25%|
|Quinn, J J||9||2||22%||35.00||3||33%|
|Ryan, K A||11||0||0%||-11.00||0||0%|
|Stoute, Sir Michael||3||1||33%||3.00||1||33%|
THE DRAW (since track renovation 2008 - 2016)
LORD GLITTERS - Came over from France to David O'Meara towards the end of last Summer and made a great start for his new yard when running second then first in two big field class 2 handicaps at Ascot before running a neck second in a Listed race at Newmarket. He's shown he can handle these sort of conditions with his win in the Ascot Balmoral Handicap and should make a bold bid from a 5lb higher mark.
MITCHUM SWAGGER - Had a good summer in 2016 with placed efforts in some big races including the Hunt Cup but has been highly tried since without much success. He never really captured that form last Season with his sole win coming when dropped down to a class 3 conditions race at Thirsk. He rounded off his Season running down the field in a big 7f handicap at Ascot from the same rating as he runs off today. He's changed yards and his new trainer will have to get him back to his best for him to be competitive here.
BIG COUNTRY - Is unbeaten in three runs on the all weather including last time out at Wolverhampton from a rating of 100 but has spent most of his career running over much longer distances. Ran second in the John Smiths Handicap at York last Season (1m2f) on good ground but has never really run well when the ground has been worse than that. With the ground, the distance and a 5lb penalty for his last win there are plenty of negatives to make me look elsewhere.
GABRIAL - He won this in 2015 and has done very well in the past in these types of races but he is a 9yo without a win since June 2016. He's dropping down the handicap though and is now 5lb lower than when running 4th in the Lincoln last year. With Jamie Spencer onboard this hold up horse might be worth considering each way at a big price.
BALLARD DOWN - Lightly raced and pretty consistent through late 2015 to early Summer 2017 but took his form to a whole new level when encountering soft ground for the first time at Newmarket last July. In a decent class 2 handicap at Newmarket he stormed home by 3 1/2 lengths despite being eased down. The handicapper raised him 9lb for that and we haven't seen him since but if he's in anything like that form on his first run back since he will be a force to be reckoned with.
DARK RED - Raced mainly over 10 furlongs throughout his career he's shown up well in a number of big field handicaps. The application of blinkers last Autumn saw him run a couple of very decent races including running 3rd to Lord Glitters at Ascot over a mile. He's 5lb better off with that rival today for a 1 1/2 lengths beating, he's had a warm up run and the blinkers are back on. Everything's set up for a big run at a big price.
DOLPHIN VISTA - Shock 50/1 winner of the Cambridgeshire on just his second start for his new trainer Martin Meade and then wasn't beaten that far when 5th in an AW Listed race on his next start. He was 5th in the Lincoln last year from a 3lb lower mark and got beat over hurdles last time out which rather puts a dent in his chances of taking the race this year.
CHELSEA LAD - Began last Season looking like a horse set to dominate the big Spring handicaps but it didn't really work out for him and he was a beaten favourite in all of his first 3 runs. He was gelded mid Summer but was beaten again when coming back as favourite in a mile handicap at York. It wasn't until his trainer upped him in trip that we began to see the best of him as he ran 4th in the Cambridgeshire and 2nd in the November Handicap over 1m4f later that Autumn. He's up 3lb and back in trip here which leaves him looking vulnerable in this hot contest.
VIA VIA - Won first time up in class 4 company at Newcastle last Season but was then off the track from March until mid October. He came back that Season with a decent run in a class 2 handicap and followed it up with a 3rd in Listed company. The handicapper whacked him up 9lb for that run and although he then dropped him back 3lb after a poor run in another Listed race at Kempton his current mark of 101 still looks a little high for what he's actually achieved.
NOT SO SLEEPY - He's another runner that's been running over longer distances, in fact the last time he ran over a mile was in October 2015. He did win a handicap at the Epsom Derby meeting last June from a mark 2lb lower than he runs off here but that was over 10f and he doesn't look likely to play a part over this mile trip.
KINGS GIFT - Having run second in a Group 3 as a 2yo his connections were keen to give him a try in top company at the start of last year but after running down the field in the French Guineas and at Royal Ascot he was dropped in class to run in handicaps for the rest of the Season. He managed a couple of third places but ended his Season running 25th in the Cambridgeshire. He'll need to have found some improvement for being Gelded over the Winter if he is to be competitive here.
LONDON PROTOCOL - Spent last Summer running in France and managed to pick up a couple of races. Back in the UK he ran Fire Brigade to under 3 lengths when giving him 8lb but beat 1 horse home in Listed company at Kempton in November and 5 horses in two handicaps at Meydan this Winter. Overall his profile doesn't look good enough but there is a glimmer of hope from that run behind Fire Brigade last Autumn.
GREY BRITAIN - Ran some great races in defeat over a mile last Season and even managed a Listed success at Newmarket in May but the best of his form has been over 10f. No good in two runs at Meydan earlier this month it was a similar story last year with him needing a couple of runs back in this country to regain his form. Not for me.
ADDEYBB - He's just the sort of horse that was winning the Lincoln around 10 years ago. A lightly raced 4yo, a handicap win at the end of last Season and from a top Newmarket trainer. These types dominated the race from 2005 - 2010 but there has since been a shift towards the more experienced handicappers aged 5 and 6yo. Addeybb won a 16 runner handicap at the end of last Season and is up 6lb for that win but should run a big race.
REPURCUSSION - Fairly average run of form through Spring and Summer last year over 10f but started to run better when dropped back to a mile in August. That all culminated with an emphatic 5 length win in a class 3 handicap at Newmarket in late September on Good to Soft. Up in class and up 10lb for that win he'll have to improve again if he's to win here but that's certainly not impossible.
STAMP HILL - He's done most of his racing in 7f handicaps and pops up every now and again with a win. Caused a big shock when landing the 7f Ascot International Handicap at 50/1 last July but never dangerous in his only start afterwards when down the field in a Listed contest. Ground no problem but racing over a mile from an 8lb higher mark is.
FIRE BRIGADE - Wonderful run of consistent form throughout last Season as he improved from a 71 rated handicapper to his present mark of 98. Similar type to Addeybb and closed matched on their 1st-3rd runs at Newmarket last September. Rounded off his Season with a class 2 handicap win at Leicester, has Ryan Moore onboard, goes on the ground and is sure to be in the mix.
DONNCHA - Without a win since June 2015 but has run some fantastic races without success in all of the major handicaps since including finishing 3rd in this race last year. That was from a 3lb higher mark than he runs off today with today's mark his lowest it's been since beaten a neck over course and distance the Lincoln consolation race in 2016. He's been gelded over the Winter and with the ground and draw in his favour a big run looks on the cards.
WITHERNSEA - Like Donncha he's a regular in these types of race and can also be relied upon to run a decent race without necessarily winning. Popped up in a class 2 handicap at Newbury last May and ran 3-4-3 in three big field handicaps last Summer. Not so good in three similar handicaps in the Autumn but now down 2lb and can't be dismissed lightly despite his high odds.
LEADER WRITER - Came over France last Summer and was a Class 2 handicap winner at Ascot on just his 3rd start for his new connections. Well down the field in the Cambridgeshire from a 4lb higher mark but a lot of promise on his comeback run at Lingfield in February where he ran on nicely at the finish to grab 4th. Still time to build on that Ascot win and has chances.
HAYADH - Decent juvenile in 2015 when with John Gosden but off the track 2 1/2 years before returning in a class 3 handicap at Wolverhampton for a new trainer, Rebecca Bastiman. He made all the running to win by a neck but couldn't repeat the tactics two weeks later at Newcastle off a 3lb higher mark. Unlikely to be able to dominate this race in similar style and may struggle under his 5lb penalty.
BRAVERY - Last years winner scrapes in at the bottom of the weights from a 5lb lower mark that he won off 12 months ago. That's due to a poor sequence of runs after that success with the exception of a second place finish at York last October off today's mark. That would seem to suggest he's not one to write off just yet and from stall 1 under similar conditions to last year he must go well.
The three fancied runners Fire Brigade, Lord Glitters and ADDEYBB are difficult to split but my preference is for the last named who has a similar profile to the type of winner we saw in this race around 8-10 years ago. He scores well on the trends, comes from a yard with a good record here and should run a big race.
There are a number of outsiders that I could see running well including last years winner Bravery, the oldest runner in the field Gabrial and the well handicapped Withernsea. But I'm going to put the each way money on DONNCHA who has a habit of running well in these big field, straight mile handicaps and is nicely handicapped compared to previous Course and Distance runs and the blinkered DARK RED who doesn't do well on the trends but has everything else in place for a big run.
Three against the field:
ADDEYBB 13/2 (Skybet 1/5 odds 184.108.40.206.5.6)
DONNCHA 16/1 (General 1/4 odds 220.127.116.11) or 14/1 (Coral 1/5 odds 18.104.22.168.5.6)
DARK RED 33/1 (Bet365 1/4 odds 22.214.171.124) or 28/1 (Skybet 1/5 odds 126.96.36.199.5.6)
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