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Addeybb proves a Donny Dazzler in Lincoln Romp

Addeybb proved a cut above the rest when romping to victory in the Lincoln at Doncaster.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old cruised through the race at the head of affairs and could be named the winner from some way out. Just beyond the furlong pole James Doyle made his move and the race was quickly put to bed. Top-weight, Lord Glitters, battled on bravely to finish second, closely followed by Mitchum Swagger and old favourite Gabrial.

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This was a record-equalling fourth Lincoln for Haggas, and he was clearly pleased with the performance: “The right horses were up in the front. The top-weight (Lord Glitters) is a good horse and Mitchum Swagger is a good horse, so I think the form will prove to be strong. In this ground anything can happen, but he's Pivotal and we minded him as a young horse. He won the Silver Cambridgeshire well and I hope he's going to have a good year.

“We thought we'd go for the Sandown Mile next if something like this happened, so I see no reason to change it. It's a month away and it's good timing. I think the track will suit him, it should be slow ground and it's time he got up in grade. He's done a bit at home, but he's lazy and not very good on the all-weather, so I think James got a bit of a shock today. We're trying to build a relationship with James, but he's still contracted to Godolphin. They didn't use him much last year, but they probably will this year.”

Doyle was similarly impressed, saying: “The ground was a bit of an unknown, but he had the right pedigree to do his stuff today. He's such an unassuming horse. He goes through the motions; he's not a flashy work horse at home. I wouldn't like to say how far he could go, but he's certainly a horse on the up.”

The winner was in receipt of 8lbs from the runner-up, nevertheless, the style of success suggests he could make an impact in Group races. His pedigree, by Pivotal out of a Kingmambo mare, also suggests he’ll cope with a step-up in trip. There’s sure to be further improvement physically from the youngster and the way he travelled through testing ground makes ventures to France an interesting proposition.

Much the same can be said of Lord Glitters, a five-year-old that clearly excels in heavy ground. O’Meara enjoys his jaunts abroad and it would come as no surprise to see the grey appear on the other side of the Channel, though he appears best off a strong pace, which isn’t always forthcoming in France.

This was of course merely the opening salvo of the turf flat season, and as such, it would be unwise to get too carried away with the performance of Addeybb. Penitent was probably the classiest of the recent Lincoln winners. Having won the race in 2010, it took him another two years to land a Group race. He was also trained by William Haggas, prior to switching to David O’Meara’s yard at the beginning of the 2012 campaign.

The Lincoln – O’Meara to show that all that Glitters is Gold

I’d be lying if I said the Cheltenham Festival went well from a punting perspective. I spent the week siding with favourites that lost and opposing those that romped home. But like a phoenix rising from a Prestbury Park Pyre, I intend to get back on track, with the aid of a change of code.

The curtain lifts on a new turf flat season, with the Lincoln Handicap Saturday’s highlight at Doncaster. Run over a straight mile, the race has a habit of producing upsets. Four of the last six renewals have gone to those at odds of 20/1 or greater. There’s only been two successful favourites in the last dozen years. Richard Fahey has a strong recent record with a couple of wins in the last six. He often arrives mob-handed with his most prominent pair last year finishing fourth and fifth.

The Malton handler sends three into battle this time round, with last year’s fourth Gabrial having another crack. A former winner of the race, he’s now a nine-year-old and arrives on a 4lb lower mark than 12 months ago. He was a cracking fifth in the valuable Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day back in October. That performance came on this type of ground and a repeat would see him terrific value at 33/1. It’s four, five and six-year-olds that tend to win the Lincoln, though this fella looks sure to go close again.

Stamp Hill appears to be Fahey’s other major hope. The five-year-old needs to improve off a career high mark but will love the ground, and his trainer sounded more than hopeful in his Sporting Life column yesterday. A course winner, he needs to see out the trip and is another 33/1 shot with a fair chance.

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Michael Bell’s Fire Brigade has been all the rage at the head of the market. He put in a string of solid performances as a three-year-old when only out of the frame twice in 10 starts. Up just 4lbs from last season’s concluding mark, you’d be hopeful that he’s strengthened physically since October and with ground in his favour he looks a major player.

On last year’s form he’s closely matched with the William Haggas-trained Addeybb. This four-year-old by Pivotal will also appreciate ground conditions and finished just ahead of Fire Brigade when winning over a furlong further at Newmarket back in September. The pair are closely matched in the betting and look sure to finish close on the track. It’s pretty much guesswork as to who will have improved the most for a winter’s break. They’re hard to split on known form.

Lord Glitters was an emphatic winner of the Balmoral on this type of ground and followed that performance with a close second in a listed event at Newmarket, when probably not favoured by a small field. Winning top-weights are rare, with Babodana in 2004 the last. Yet David O’Meara’s five-year-old still looks unexposed to me and the ground looks key to his chances. I’d be surprised if he didn’t go very close.

Dark Red is capable of a big run having gone close in the Balmoral behind Lord Glitters. The ground isn’t an issue and he’s better off at the weights with his Ascot nemesis. I’d be surprised if he won but he’s another 33/1 shot with a fair chance at placing.

The James Tate-trained Via Via also looks over-priced on his performance behind Lord Glitters at Newmarket. This six-year-old, by Lope De Vega, is lightly raced and should enjoy both track and ground. His handicap mark of 101 is 6lb lower than Lord Glitters and I fancy he’ll go very close.

Taking on favourites has not gone well for me in recent weeks but I’ll be doing so again tomorrow. Lord Glitters will be tucked away in this big field and delivered as late as possible. I take him to defy top-weight and add to that impressive Balmoral success. I fancy Via Via is far to big at 33s and he’ll be my each-way punt.

Best of luck to all those having a crack at this prestigious and valuable handicap.