Above: Donncha (pictured left) just fails to catch Bravery (right) in last year’s Lincoln Handicap
The Betway Lincoln Handicap
It’s the traditional curtain raiser to the Flat season on turf in Britain. Staged at Doncaster racecourse and run over the famous straight mile, the Lincoln Handicap as we know it today was first run in 1855, having been run over longer distances in previous years. As the name suggests, it was originally run at Lincoln racecourse but moved to its permanent home in South Yorkshire in 1965.
The Lincoln Handicap is something of a cavalry charge with 22 runners fanning out across the track. The draw plays an important part in the race, but as this is the first day’s racing of the season it is often hard to know which side (if any) of the track will be favoured. Many punters like to try and cover as many bases as possible by nominating a horse drawn on either side, or concentrating on those drawn in the middle in the hope their jockey will be smart enough to follow the side that appears to be racing at an advantage.
For experts such as those at Betting.net offering free horse racing tips on this race, there is one other big conundrum in this race.
As the Lincoln Handicap is on the opening day of the Flat season on turf, unless a horse has been competing on the All-Weather tracks through the winter, it’s not easy to know just how fit he/she might be after a five months or longer break for the winter period.That’s why it helps to look at the profile of each contender to see how well they run first-time out, or after a break. This can be a very strong pointer to how they might run in this prestigious contest.
There has been something of a trend developing over the last eight years which might prove significant. Since 2010, seven of the eight winners have carried between 9st and 9st 4lb. That’s quite a narrow weight spectrum. The only exception was John Quinn’s Levitate (2013) who carried a light weight of just 8st4lb. Also, the last seven winners have all been returned at SP’s ranging between 12/1 to 25/1. No horses at single-figure odds have scored, nor has any big outsider.
There are plenty of horses that meet the above criteria – of course that’s not to rule out anything of particular interest above or below the target weight range – but here are our two recommendations:
Donncha to be Doncaster Hero?
Trained by Robert Eddery, Donncha (20/1 each-way with SkyBet) might on the face of it appear to be up against it. He hasn’t won a race since June 2015 and will arrive at Doncaster on Saturday on a losing streak of 17 races. The seven-year-old will race for the first time since being gelded in November and he’s been given plenty of time to get over the unkindest cut of all.
While he might not have won for some time, he has run a number of good races in defeat, including on his first start of the campaign in each of the last two seasons. Most significantly, each of those runs came at this meeting at Doncaster.
Two years ago on Lincoln Handicap day, he failed by just a neck to beat Lord of the Rock in the Spring Mile at Doncaster over the Lincoln course and distance, conceding the winner 6lb on soft ground. Last year, Donnacha again started his campaign at Doncaster, but rated 3lb higher than 12 months earlier, he made it into the starting line-up for the main event. On good to soft ground he was switched early from the stands side to the advantageous far side and held up toward the rear of the field, as usual. He then made very good headway over a furlong out before finishing strongly into third, eventually failing by just half a length to catch Bravery, who had adopted similar tactics.
Bravery is set to race off a 2lb lower mark tomorrow as he bids to win this race for the second year running and should again go well, but he has been drawn in stall 1 and that might prove to be a disadvantage.
Donncha didn’t run quite as well in his four other starts last term, and it has become clear that he goes best when fresh, especially when there is a little give in the ground. Off a 3lb lower mark than last term, carrying a good racing weight of 9st exactly, with the eyecatching booking of top jockey Andrea Atzeni, and hopefully in the right place in stall 15, Eddery’s charge may finally have his moment of glory.
Writer to Grab The Headlines?
The next of our horse tips today is Henry Spiller’s Leader Writer, one of a number of runners to have already attracted ante-post money for this race. Ryan Moore’s mount, Fire Brigade, has already been the main subject of a major gamble, and while he fits our criteria and looks sure to go well, it looks as if the punting value has already gone with Michael Bell’s charge now a top-priced 11/2 favourite.
Leader Writer, however, is still available at 16/1. He won a decent handicap at Ascot last term off a 5lb lower mark than Saturday’s race, but served notice at Lingfield last month (on his first outing for over four months) that he could be a force to be reckoned with at Doncaster, staying on strongly after a slow start to finish a two-length fourth to the decent Chevallier in a mile All-Weather handicap. He should now be cherry ripe.
Fran Berry gets on well with this six-year-old and once again takes the mount. They have been drawn in stall 21, which may prove to be the right side of the course with most of the fancied horses set to race on that part of the track.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.