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Lincoln Handicap preview

The UK Flat season traditionally opens with the Lincoln meeting, featuring a straight mile handicap, a declared field of 22 and most of them first-up off a winter break. Good luck!

Not phased by the challenge is Chris Day, @chrisday100, and you can read his fine work below.

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William Hill Lincoln
Heritage Handicap (Class 2)
£100,000
Straight Mile course
Likely Track Condition - Soft


For those who love the Jumps, as I do, the next couple of weeks are the culmination of another great season but for those who love the Flat, as I also do, they signal a new start where we look forward to crowning new champions and trying to find the winner of some unfathomable big field handicaps where the draw can be more important than the form of the horses.

The Lincoln Handicap kicks off the season on Saturday and the job of the punter in recent seasons has been made even more difficult with the plethora of All Weather form needing to be taken into account against horses who’ve been rested since last Autumn plus the odd horse who’s wintered and possibly been got fit in Dubai.

Richard Fahey, a trainer whose charges are invariably ready to go straight away, supplies the favourite, Gabrial’s Kaka, in the absence of Roger Charlton’s Captain Cat due to unsuitably soft ground. A four year old by Jeremy, he finished second of 11 over nine furlongs at York in October but races from a 3lb higher mark, has no soft ground or big field form and went off 16-1 last time, whereas he now trades at single figure prices. Not for me but I respect connections.

Next in the betting is another unexposed four year old from the Tim Easterby yard in Off Art, who will find this a more searching test than small field wins he gained against three year olds on better ground last season and is passed over due to the price.

A case can be made for Tullius, who plied his trade in pattern races last season but has won a straight nine furlong handicap at Newmarket and ought to go well. Defying a mark of 109 will take some doing for any horse.

Whispering Warrior strikes as an improver, racing from the same mark as when winning The Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton but most of his form is on All Weather surfaces and I’d want to see him do it on grass considering the odds on offer.

Bronze Angel is a former Cambridgeshire winner from only an 1lb lower mark and clearly loves big field handicaps on straight tracks, having also finished third in a Britannia. He made no show last year in three attempts and it takes a leap of faith to expect him to win this off such a preparation although I think he may be a Royal Hunt Cup type for this year.

Last season’s victor, Levitate, is 16lbs higher and races from a mark of 106. Shrewd trainer but that would be some performance were he to win this and I’m pretty sure there’ll be others better in even though he did win off 98 over the track in soft ground in November. He’s almost guaranteed to run his race, though.

Another horse to have contested last year’s renewal, Jack’s Revenge, is now 4lb higher than when fifth and 14lb higher than his last win so needs to find something to have a say at the business end.

Charlie Hills was a trainer who showed excellent placing of his horses last season and One Word More is interesting, having won first time up at Kempton last season before running in The German 2000 Guineas and Jersey Stakes and his best handicap form came when a ½ length second to Breton Rock, conceding 2lb over 7f of this track in soft ground. The winner franked the form by winning a 50 grand Ascot handicap the following month and the form is strong. Tom Queally was booked early and I think a good run is expected.

However, flying in the face of the trends boys, who all know horses older than six don’t win Lincolns, I’m about to tip a seemingly exposed nine year old who won this race three years ago from a 6lb higher mark. Sweet Lightning has always been a strong traveller who needs cover and these type of races, where his turn of foot can be played late, invariably see him run his best races. First time up last year, when trained by Johnny Murtagh, he won The Irish Lincoln by 3 ¾ lengths in heavy ground from a mark of 100, strong form when subsequent performances of the placed horses are taken into account. Afterwards he had little chance in small fields or fast ground and tomorrow he will have everything in his favour. Wintered in Dubai, his last time out seventh could be viewed as a step in the right direction and he has the aid of a tongue tie tomorrow.

What really interests me is that Middleham Park Racing, who’ve won the race before, bought him from Murtagh at the end of last season, presumably with this in mind and have sent him to David O’Meara, a man who’s regularly proven his mettle with older seemingly exposed horses. The course had 18mm of rain overnight and the conditions should be A1 so all we need now is the hard bit but I have to admit to throwing 30 quid at him at 33-1 when the decs were made and can’t see anything else I’d rather back.

For forecast and tricast purposes I’ll go with Tullius and One Word More but there’s only one horse I’ll be shouting for tomorrow.

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