15.35 Doncaster: Lincoln Heritage Handicap
The return of the flat is finally here & the traditional big race on Day 1 is the Lincoln run over the straight mile. In recent years, the race has been won by improving 4 year olds from top yards with the 5 most recent winners fitting that profile. It’s always worthwhile following unexposed horses in big handicaps & this year’s Lincoln looks, on paper, to be a prime example of that. I certainly won’t be deviating too far from that with my final selections.
The big yards of Charlie Appleby & William Haggas are battling out favouritism with Modern News & Mujtaba respectively. The first named is 3 from 3 in small field handicaps & was most recently 3rd in a Listed event over in Dubai. This is a completely different test & the yard has entrusted the steering to inexperienced yet talented 7lb claimer Harry Davies. He could be a class apart from many of his rivals but I’d rather not go in at odds of 7/2, especially as this is his first time beyond 7 furlongs. Mujtaba, meanwhile, is unbeaten in his 3 career starts & won his one and only handicap comfortably at Redcar. Similar comments apply in respect of potential but it’s interesting that Adam Farragher was initially booked for the ride with his 5lb claim appearing key to the reason but he’s no longer available & Cieren Fallon is now onboard. Saleymm is another big yard hopeful & has claims on his all weather exploits whilst Darkness is a French recruit for David O’Meara who has a knack of improving horses first time out. It would not surprise me to see any of the above 4 horses win but I’ll oppose them all with the first 3 all drawn low which, if the draw plays a part, could be a disadvantage & the latter named just hasn’t shown enough for us to make a proper judgement.
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The first of 2 bets is the Haggas second string Ametist. Unlike the others mentioned, he is now a 5 year old but he’s so lightly raced that there’s surely more to come. After winning his novice at Wetherby on debut last year, he then went on to land a Class 3 handicap at Newmarket before following up back at HQ, this time on the July course. Two below par efforts followed in top handicaps, firstly when sent off as favourite for the Bunbury Cup off a mark 2lbs higher than today’s & then when drawn wide in the Clipper Logistics at York where he didn’t appear to be suited by the turns. Back on a straight track & stepped up in trip, he ran a cracker to finish 3rd in the Cambridgeshire, sporting first time cheekpieces. That proved his liking for a big field which is a plus here, as is the fact he has proven form over further given the straight mile at Doncaster takes some getting. I’m expecting the likely pace will come from Marie’s Diamond in stall 16 which would suit the selection who exits from box 13. A good jockey booking & with form in the book when fresh, he should be hard to keep out of the reckoning.
The second of my bets is Notre Belle Bete who squeezed into this race after landing a 5lb penalty for winning the trial at Wolverhampton on the all weather. I’m hoping his draw in 21 is a good one & provided it is, he’ll surely run a massive race. Since moving from Ireland, he easily won a novice event at Lingfield at odds of 1/10. He was always doing enough that day off the back of a very slow pace but it was the way he won the Lincoln trial that was so impressive. He broke from a wide gate & settled in midfield but the race was run at a stop start gallop & it looked as if he had been caught out entering the straight as Baldomero kicked several lengths clear. However, the selection stayed on superbly to win by a head & was not stopping at the line which is a positive as there are no trip concerns. He may have been raised 5lbs for that but it’s worth remembering this horse was just 2 lengths behind 2000 Guineas & St James Palace winner Poetic Flare on debut & had some 100+ rated horses in behind. Whilst he may never have raced in a handicap over in Ireland, his peak rating was 103 so a mark of 92 could underestimate him now he’s learnt how to win. The set up of this race should suit & I’m expecting a massive run at a good each way price.
Back Ametist (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 Sky Bet BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
Back Notre Belle Bete (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Betfair Sportsbook BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
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