A major gamble on the Michael Bell-trained Fire Brigade has developed over the last 24 hours with the four-year-old advancing to clear favourite with most firms for Saturday’s first big race of the new Flat season, the 32 Red Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster (3.35).
When the five-day declarations were revealed showing that the Newmarket-based raider would be partnered by none other than the world’s top jockey, Ryan Moore, the bookies started running for cover. Available in places at up to 10/1, Fire Brigade’s odds soon started to tumble and by yesterday evening he was a top-priced 6/1 shot with Sportingbet. Some firms are taking no chances and offer just 5/1, making the son of Firebreak their new favourite to win the famous heritage handicap on the straight mile at Town Moor.
Recent comments in the national media from Bell have only served to add to the momentum as punters jumped onto the bandwagon.
“Fire Brigade hasn’t missed a day this winter and I’ve been very happy with his preparation,” Bell told the Racing Post. “He’s bang on his racing weight and he likes soft ground so plenty of boxes are ticked. Hopefully we can put a smile on Ryan’s face on Saturday.”
34-year-old Moore, the jockey the bookies around the world fear, was seen at his very best as recently as last weekend when coming from last to first to land the Grade 1 BMW Hong Kong Derby on Ping Hai Star at Sha Tin racecourse.
The famous Lincoln Handicap is one race that has eluded Moore’s grasp until now, although he came mighty close last term when just edged out aboard favourite Oh This Is Us, beaten a neck by Bravery. Moore had ridden the three previous winners on the card on the opening day of the season last March and the bookies reportedly stood to lose millions if he had completed a four-timer.
Fire Brigade brings good form into the Lincoln Handicap being a progressive horse who ended last season finishing a close third to Adeybb (who re-opposes on Saturday and is available at 8/1 with Coral) at Newmarket in September in the Silver Cambridgeshire Handicap. He ended the the campaign getting up close home to beat the decent Chatez by half a length at Leicester.
Betting.net’s special free horse racing tips on the Lincoln Handicap will be available from Friday at noon following final confirmation of the runners and riders for Saturday’s big race. You’ll find out whether we agree Moore has a favourite’s chance, or if there is better betting value to be found. Don’t miss it!
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.