Flat fans finally have something tangible to get excited about with Doncaster’s opening weekend reaching a crescendo at 3.35 on Saturday when the first leg of the Spring Double is run in the shape of the Lincoln Handicap.
Some of the UK’s big-hitters send out improving handicappers in an attempt to win the £62,000 pot with William Haggas, Michael Bell, Richard Fahey and David O’Meara all involved.
Here are the main contenders:
Has the overall profile of a horse still very much improving and could go on to contest Group races before long. Finished last season by winning a very useful race at Newmarket ahead of some likely types and despite a 6lb rise in the weights for that may not yet have been anchored.
The softer going seems to suit him and he isn’t overly bothered by the rough and tumble of a high quality, fast paced handicap so he has plenty in his favour. James Doyle rides.
Track and ground are fine but unusually for a Lincoln contender he finished last season here over 1m4f and did very well. He was a good fourth in the Cambridgeshire though and is intriguing over this trip, though I feel he’ll be a few pounds behind the leading players.
Michael Bell has booked Ryan Moore for this week’s talking horse and the money has really come for him all week long. He has been backed into favouritism in fact but needs to overturn a length beating behind Addeybb from last autumn at HQ.
The fact that he is actually a couple of pounds worse off this time against William Haggas’ horse doesn’t read well to me and riders Moore and Doyle have essentially swapped horses so it would be interesting to know their thoughts on the pair.
The form line featuring Fire Brigade and Addeybb seems to be the one to concentrate on but Leader Writer could be the one to crash that particular party having shown up well at Ascot in similar conditions to this when landing the Weatherbys Handicap in September.
He arguably didn’t go on from that in his next two runs but remains of great interest and after a prep run could be primed for a big attack.
It’ll be some performance if the topweight can score here but having taken the £240,000 Balmoral Handicap at Ascot in the autumn he is obviously a classy type. He was perhaps a little over the top when beaten at odds-on at Newmarket in November but it was hardly a bad performance at Listed level and he can resume progress with a big run at Donny.
I can’t deny that I followed Afaak and ADDEYBB all of last season so to see them finish one and two at Newmarket was a thrill. Both can go on to better things this year and I will stick with that form line here with Willam Haggas’ charge taken for the win.
Fire Brigade was only a length behind Addeybb that day but isn’t as favoured by the weights as supporters would hope, while Leader Writer could be the chief danger following a scintillating performance at Ascot last autumn.