As we warm up for Cheltenham this weekend there is a nice mix of all weather and jumps in the ITV schedule. The contest that seems to strike the sweetest balance between being solvable but still competitive enough to get a decent price looks to be the Lincoln Trial, scheduled for 2.40pm at Wolverhampton.
As usual, all the tools and information referenced below can be accessed with a Geegeez Gold subscription – click here to get your first 30 days for £1 PLUS £36 worth of Cheltenham bonus reports.
A maximum field of 13 for this race so hopefully we can find a potential draw advantage using the Draw Analyser tool.
Slightly surprisingly (and disappointingly!) there doesn’t appear to be a strong draw advantage here. The PRB figures for the draw give us the most accurate information and according to the Draw Analyser the PRB for a low draw is 0.50, middle draw is 0.52 and high draw is 0.48.
The majority of other metrics back up the PRB data with middle draws coming out best, high draws coming out worst and a low draw being somewhere between the two.
There isn’t a huge difference in any of the data when looking at each section of the draw but maybe looking at each individual stall will highlight some stronger advantages or disadvantages.
The above table is sorted by PRB3, which accounts for the stalls either side of the stall in question. This metric is great for helping ignore any individual data anomalies.
It seems to show that anywhere between stalls 3 and 7 is probably absolutely ideal and advantageous, with double figure stall numbers a definite negative. The overall PRB for high draws here was 0.48 but for the highest two stalls here individually it is 0.47 and 0.45.
It’s also worth noting that most of the metrics point towards the lowest stall also being a negative.
We often see some fairly strong pace biases on the all weather, even over slightly longer trips, so let’s take a look at the Pace Analyser for Wolverhampton.
Plenty of data here which is great and it seems that there isn’t much of a pace bias. The win percentages for front runners and prominent racers are better than the same data for mid division and held up but we tend to see this at most racecourses so it certainly isn’t unique to Wolverhampton.
The place percentages follow a similar trend to the win percentages with front runners and prominent racers producing place percentages of 28.92% and 29.77% respectively compared to 21.49% and 20.72% for mid division and held up.
Prominent racers have been profitable to back blind when going each way (each way PL of 35.35) but front runners have been best to back win only. They’ve still produced a loss though with a win PL of -156.24.
Ideally you want to be handily placed here in this sort of field size but no run style should be deemed a huge disadvantage here.
Draw and Pace Combination
The pace data tells us that it’s slightly advantageous to be closer to the pace. The draw data tells us that middle to low is slightly favoured. Something that is great about the Draw Analyser tool is that we can combine the draw and pace data into an easy to digest heat map.
Yet again there are no really strong biases to note but that’s not to say we should disregard this information.
What we are seeing is no run style for a low drawn runner is a big negative, but a prominent run style probably sees low draws to best effect. If you are drawn in the middle stalls you’ll benefit most from being prominent or front running (mid division is no disadvantage though) whilst high draws tend to fare best the more aggressively they are ridden.
The data over this distance at Wolverhampton is some of the fairer data you’ll see at a UK flat course and no stall or run style results in a huge advantage or disadvantage but it’s pretty clear that certain positions are going to see runners seen to best effect and others won’t be.
Lincoln Trial Pace Map
The all important pace map which should bring the above data to life.
Hardly a lot of pace here and Born To Be Alive seems likely to get an easy lead which could nullify any slight disadvantage from his high draw - high drawn early leaders have a PRB of 0.54. The Gill Brothers may well be the one who tracks the pace, also from a high draw.
The worst draw and pace combination was held up from a high draw and the well fancied Mission Boy will have to overcome both factors if he’s to win for Ryan Moore. A lack of pace in the race will make his task even harder and he’s going to have to be very well handicapped to win this one.
With the majority of these seemingly most comfortable held up there is likely to be very little pressure on the lead. Some of those that are likely to be patiently ridden could end up racing quite wide, potentially making a low draw more important than ever for hold up performers, unless a fair few of them are ridden a little more aggressively here.
In early market order, starting with the most fancied, here are the runners for the 2021 Lincoln Trial:
Two decent runs since moving to Marco Botti over the winter in decent enough races. He was 2nd at Lingfield, put well in his place by the winner (with not a lot of strength in behind) and then 4th at Kempton behind Born To Be Alive. Mission Boy is 6lbs better off for a 3 length defeat so needs to improve to reverse that form, which may be difficult if he’s held up from the highest stall.
The extra half furlong should definitely be in his favour (he was a close 2nd in the Italian Derby over 11f two years ago) but he seems very short based on his last two runs. The booking of Ryan Moore has probably been overreacted to in the market and unless this has been a plot and the horse wasn’t fully wound up on his last run he may find a few too good.
Man Of The Night
One of two for Richard Hannon here and certainly the more interesting of the pair. He hasn’t been seen since finishing 2nd in a hot Newmarket handicap at the July Meeting and fitness will definitely have to be taken on trust on his first start for 246 days. He did win first time out as a 2yo and ran well on his 3yo debut so there are promising signs in that regard and Richard Hannon has a decent record with fresh horses. In the past five years his handicap win strike rate is 11.20% and it falls only slightly to 10.28% when only accounting for runners that are returning from a 60+ day break.
Besides the absence, we are looking at a very lightly raced 4yo for a top trainer who put in a good performance when last seen, splitting a pair of next time out runners up. He is up 4lbs for that effort though. He’ll be dropping back 1.5f in trip compared to his three 3yo starts which is probably more of a concern but he’s definitely a horse to be interested in over the coming weeks and months regardless of what happens here. Untried on the all weather.
Born To Be Alive
The most likely pace angle in the race and a winner on his last start at Kempton. Connections have had to be hugely patient with the horse having missed 897 days of racing before returning over a furlong further here at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day. That was a solid 2nd in a decent race. He was slightly out of depth next time out away from handicap company but won for the first time since June 2017 at Kempton last time off a 5lb lower mark. The form of that race has taken a couple of knocks since but he was much the best that day.
He’s very much at home on artificial surfaces (all weather form figures read 2231) and this distance is probably just about perfect for him.
Winner of this last two starts, Tadleel is developing into a bit of a Newcastle specialist where he has a 100% win record from 3 starts. Those wins all came at 7f but he has won over a mile at Kempton and finished runner up over a mile at York so he doesn’t have a huge amount to prove in terms of stamina.
He has run on Wolverhampton’s tapeta surface previously, he was a running on 3rd (over 7f) in first time blinkers. He’s almost certainly better over that distance at Newcastle than Wolverhampton but having looked well suited to a mile last summer, he could enjoy the stiffer test at this track around a turn. Three of his four poor efforts from eleven tries on the all weather came at Chelmsford, a course that he clearly struggles at. Take that course away from his record and he has an extremely likeable profile and he’s only up 4lbs for winning a class 2 handicap last time out.
It’s also very interesting that Laura Pearson, who is saving her claim for the flat season, returns for her only ride on the card here. Her 5lb claim could be vital in such a warm race. Her partnership with Richard Fahey has yielded three winners and a close 2nd from five runners so he clearly knows which rides to send her way.
On A Session
A stable debutant for David Barron, his career best run seemed to come last time out and coincided with a drop back to 7f. He was 3rd on soft ground at Galway and the two who finished in front of him have both won since so he’s not handicapped out of this.
Barron does have a respectable 16.12% strike rate with runners making their debut having transferred from other yards over the past five years and those runners have been profitable to follow (win PL of 24) so there are some interesting trainer stats in his favour.
The main concern here has to be the distance with all his best form at 7f or shorter. Given he’s proven on soft ground he’ll be interesting in good 7f handicaps on bad ground at the start of the flat turf season but this might just be a bit too far for him. He’s also never run on the all weather which is another question mark.
Oh This Is Us
The less fancied Richard Hannon runner seems much happier on polytrack than tapeta. He’s been beaten in all four starts here (and also on one start at Newcastle) whereas he is 4/10 on polytrack. He’s feasibly handicapped still and does act on this surface (even if he's not at his best on it) but he’s going to be far more interesting on All Weather Finals day in the mile race, a contest he has previously won.
The Gill Brothers
Lightly raced and previously consistent, The Gill Brothers hasn’t been in the same form on his last two runs where he has been well beaten and only finished ahead of one rival. Three starts ago, over a mile at Kempton, he was 2nd in a particularly warm race.
The Geegeez Future Form tab on the results page shows that the winner won again two starts later and the 4th won on his next start whilst several others in behind placed next time out. A reproduction of that effort should see him involved, especially as he’s likely to be well placed off a probable steady gallop. We just don't know what sort of form he'll turn up in though.
He paid for winning a French listed contest on his final start as a 2yo as he was unable to reach the frame in three handicap starts as a 3yo. He looked likely to improve for the step back up to a mile on his latest start in September but finished well held – perhaps the absence since indicates that wasn’t his best form.
He did cut the figure of a horse that was badly handicapped last season but it’s worth noting his all weather form has seen him finish 1st and 2nd. They were admittedly novice races but his sole start here did result in a 4+ length victory. Mick Channon has a decent record with horses returning from a break and Milltown Star is potentially better on artificial surfaces than turf. The percentage call though is to oppose on the grounds of him not being well enough handicapped but he'll be capable of picking up a race when he drops a few more pounds.
The winner of this race two years ago and 4lbs lower than that winning mark this time around. That was actually his last win which is disappointing but it’s very much worth noting that he has a 14.29% win strike rate on turf and a 50% win strike rate on all weather. Considering that difference it’s remarkable he’s only run on artificial surfaces four times in his career.
Since his win in this he has finished 4th at Chelmsford off a 6lb higher mark, doing best of those held up, and he’s also finished 4th in a very hot Kempton handicap off 3lbs higher where the 2nd and 3rd both placed since and the 5th won soon after.
Two points to note are he wears no headgear here, having often worn it in the past. His win in this two years ago was without headgear and his last run without headgear saw him finish 4th at Sandown (1st and 2nd won next time out, 3rd and 5th won two starts later) so that’s of no concern and may even be a positive. The other point is he’ll be ridden by 7lb claimer Callum Hutchinson. The combination of Balding and Hutchinson have only won one of the fifteen races they have teamed up in so that’s not the best strike rate.
He did win this off a similar break two years ago so the absence shouldn’t be deemed a negative.
His only two wins have come at 10f. He was developing into a decent 12f horse for William Haggas last season but has generally run over shorter distances since moving to Stuart Williams. He’s been slowing coming to hand for his new trainer and in doing so has come down 5lbs in the weights. He wasn’t beaten far here over a furlong further two starts ago but found this distance too sharp three runs ago and without a guaranteed strong gallop here be may lack the required pace to figure.
Equally effective over a mile and ten furlongs so this trip should suit nicely. His comfortable win at Newmarket in September may have left him badly handicapped though, he’s now 7lbs above that winning mark and was well beaten last time out in a tough York handicap. He’s run okay a couple of times at this sort of distance on the all weather but is perhaps a little better on turf and this may well be a prep run for the real thing at Doncaster in a couple of weeks time.
A five time all weather winner who hasn’t run to his best on his last three starts. He’s failed to place in this race in the last two renewals and a 5lbs drop in the weights since those two efforts is unlikely to be enough to see him get his head in front.
Makes his stable debut for Geoff Oldroyd and all weather debut at the age of 6 on his first start since September. He has only run in two handicaps at distances shorter than 10f twice and those runs have yielded a win and a 2nd place so he’s perhaps overpriced dropping back in trip again, especially as he didn’t run at all badly in a decent race last time out. Fitness and suitability to this surface have to be taken on trust though but he’s not without a shout.
Plenty in with chances here, as you’d expect looking at the market, but the trio to make most appeal are Born To Be Alive, Tadleel and Zwayyan.
The former should be seen to best effect from a pace perspective and is clearly as good as ever. He’s backable at each way prices and seems pretty certain to be in the first four home with most bookies paying four places (SkyBet are even offering five places).
Zwayyan seems massively overpriced at around 14/1 given his all weather profile. He’s undoubtedly well handicapped and although this seems a better renewal than the race he won two years ago he looks a cracking bet if you can get paid out on five places (still a good bet at four places).
I’ll probably have a couple of singles on this race and some small forecasts and tricasts for a speculative interest but my main fancy here is going to be TADLEEL. He’s clearly been loving running at Newcastle but his form isn’t completely dependent on running at that venue and I still think this horse is going to be better suited by a mile than shorter. This is an extended mile but it’s unlikely to be a severe test given the lack of pace and his speed at shorter could be the decisive factor here. The extra 5lbs that Laura Pearson claims is also a nice boost.