We are now just days away from the start of the Turf Flat season; though not officially of course; with the curtain-raiser being the 'Lincoln meeting' at Doncaster on Saturday.
Traditionally the first big handicap of the season, the Lincoln was established in 1853, and it will come as no surprise to learn that it was run at Lincoln Racecourse. When that venue sadly closed, the race was transferred to its new home at Doncaster and has remained there since 1965. The event takes place over a straight mile.
This weekend’s renewal will be as competitive as ever and it’s certain to be a task and a half to find the winner. Over the last day or two a huge gamble has taken place on the Ed Dunlop trained Zarwaan. It looks as if his four-year-old will take up his entry rather than waiting for the Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday.
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Zarwaan has halved in price to his current odds of 8-1. Dunlop said: “He was confirmed for the Lincoln and he remains in the Irish equivalent. We entered him in a seven-furlong conditions race at Kempton on Saturday, but the plan at the moment is to go to Doncaster." He was fourth in a listed race at Newmarket in his final appearance as a three-year-old last July off a rating of 102.
Marco Botti spoke to At The Races about the hopes for his Lincoln entry Moohaarib. He appeared confident of a decent run saying: “You need a horse rated around 100 to have a chance in the race.” Having wintered well and working great at home, Botti was hoping for rain at the Yorkshire track with the Oasis Dream colt at his best with some cut in the ground. He was third to race favourite Mange All at Ascot last July when giving away half a stone.
The William Haggas trained favourite has also been popular with the punters. By Zamindar out of a Montjeu mare, a win for Mange All would give Haggas a record-equalling fourth victory in the race he last won with 3-1 favourite Penitent in 2010.
Gm Hopkins sits alongside him at the head of the market, and the two met in the Silver Cambridgeshire last September. Gosden’s gelding won rather cosily on that occasion after travelling powerfully through the race. However he was slightly disappointing in his final race of last season when behind Moohaarib at Nottingham.
A maximum field of 22 will line up for the famous season opening puzzler. Those missing the cut will take their chance in the Betway Spring Mile. It’s sure to be a cracking card with huge prize money on offer to winning connections of the prestigious handicap.