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Preview 22 March 2008


4.00 Doncaster - The William Hill Lincoln Heritage Handicap Class 2 1M Soft

1. Blytheknight - Winner of this race 2yrs ago when it was held at Redcar and returns to the flat after being found out over hurdles in the last few months. Travels strongly and is ideally placed of a fast pace, he may be to exposed now and regressing after having a hard 12 months. Handles tough going that I predict by post time today with the horrid weather playing havoc and should change the Virgin ground to be more testing then forecasted. Had a great season last year he is a very talented horse for handicaps, but of top weight today he may well struggle even though he is one who will handle these conditions.

My rating - 111

2. Fajr - is fit for this seasons opening handicap after enjoying a stint in the heated surrounding of Dubai. Not disgraced over there he returns as one of the class acts in this handicap today and could well take all the beating with some very strong form in the book. Ideally suited to a galloping mile such as this and often goes well early season so there should be every chance of a big run here today with the soft going not causing him any problems and his ability to handle a big field and under the head waiter he may come with a storming run to land the spoils here today.

My Rating - 120

3. Prince Forever - An interesting horse at the top of the handicap as he hasn't won since making a good impression at Newbury on race course debut and his mark could well be higher then his ability suggests as he has been given some very stiff tasks to date. A good 3rd on last run in a listed class 3yo race back in May last year, he has been lightly campaigned and may make up in to a nice 4yo for Michael Jarvis and the Master Tactician Philip Robinson. Out of all the horses in the field he most probably has the most improvement to come but the handicapper has taken very little chance with him and it's hard evaluate his form.

My Rating - 115

4. Clipperdown - Made debut seasons for Peter Harris and Walter Swimburn and looked quite a decent type winning of marks around the 80's and then was sold to America where things seemly haven't worked out and he makes his return of a long absence here for Creighton's and has it all to do from his current mark it seems. Sure to be a interest when dropping down the weights which is a massive possibility after today's race and even though he is very effective over a mile and has a good record fresh, there has to be concerns about his well being.

My rating - 108

5. Mine - The old timer who loves big field handicaps such as this is turned out earlier then he is usually in this country and with plenty of miles on the clock and a regressive look to him he may just be below this quality these days. Will no doubt use his turn of foot to get involved in the finish of a strong gallop which is often the case with these big fields, his form last year had a consistent look to it and that was of place form at best at this level and with luck he may claim 4th or 3rd today if some of the principals run below there form. Has nothing to prove and has paid his way, he will be remembered as a great handicapper.

My rating - 112

6. European Dream - Another that has had a stint over hurdles this winter and may have had the edge taken off, he returned to the flat game with a stint in Dubai, that didn't go to well and a lot may have been down to the conditions of the track out there not suiting. The conditions underfoot today should be ideal and a much better run is expected. Gallops a mile well he won the lesser race on last years Lincoln card at Newcastle in very good style and deserves his chance in this handicap this year with a lot in his favour for a much better run. The handicapper however with the hard 12 months he has had may just have his measure at the moment.

My rating - 115

7. Raptor - Has been campaigned quite highly and finished in the pack in the Cambridgeshire in which he has some form ties with a few of these based on. Yet to find the form from Germany, he finally ran some decent races towards the end of the season last year and has form tied in with Babodana. The testing conditions may improve him here having only raced on better ground since being in the UK and was no surprise that he improved for autumn ground last season and could be interesting with juice underfoot today over a trip he stays well.

My rating - 118

8. Classic Port - One run in this country at Wolverhampton where he was very one paced over 9F on a sharper track then this straight mile today, its hard to draw to much from his limited form and while being a dark horse, the first impression I got was that he is to high in the handicap and is one to watch.

My rating - 112

9. Rio Riva - Finished well in this race 12 months ago to finish 2nd to the run away winner and connections will be happy that the rain and snow has landed at Doncaster as he is by far at his best when he has testing ground to run on. A no shower in the Cambridgeshire in which the ground may have been to fast for him he will be much better under these conditions and could easily bounce back to form he showed when bolting up at Newcastle in a class 2 handicap. Stays a mile well and handles a galloping course well even if a stiffer galloping track would be ideal. Best early season he should be on the premises if the ground continues to get softer and goes well fresh.

My Rating - 115

10. Azarole - Didn't enjoy the best of seasons last year and looked held at the weights in all the races he contested and the dropping down the weights has been a slow process and the change of stable may see him return to his best form but he is quite exposed as a handicapper and best days may be well behind him these days. He did however show some glimpses of his old ability in Dubai recently and if Jane Chapel-Hyam can find the key with this horse the ability is there to pick up a handicap against exposed sorts such as him.

My Rating - 112

11. Yeaman's Hall - Another unexposed horse who could well be a group performer in a handicap and Andrew Balding could well have a horse here who is better then this mark he has been given for a conditions stake race win at Sandown where he has had half of his runs so far. Thought to be good enough to try and beat group company in Ireland he was put in his place that day but his mark was protected and with improvement in him he should fair better then he did on handicap debut when finishing down the field at Sandown in a strong looking handicap.

My Rating - 123

12. Very Wise - Last years winner may have not done himself many favours with a win at the back end of last season when running out a decent winner in a Newmarket handicap and is a horse that benefits from a long straight mile where he can extend his galloping action. Travels strongly in his races he was a easy winner of last years Lincoln handicap and with rain about he should once again run a big race early doors with plenty of give under foot. The course suits and he is fit to run his first race of the season. The handicapper may have him in his grip but with a lot in favour he could still grab a place in these conditions.

My Rating - 118

13. Little White Lie - Not entirely sure about this horse as his form is very little known to me and gives this handicap a interesting edge to it. All his form has been overseas apart from one run at Epsom in which he ran a cracker, so there is no problem with him travelling over. Didn't show to much on return on the all weather but should improve for the return to turf and handles soft ground conditions. The form of his runs looks to give him some claims at this level and not one to discount with spring form in the book, but the mile trip has to be some concerns.

My rating - 114

14. Babodana - Has fallen down the weights and is starting to look very well handicapped again having held form at the highest level including winning this handicap at this track under top weight and is well suited to the track, even though a mile these days may not be his most ideal trip, but with a strong pace and his liking for these early season handicaps he has to have claims under these conditions and a nice racing weight. One to consider now he is handicapped to go well again even if fully exposed.

My rating - 120

15. Annemasse - Interesting new recruit to the Fahey stable after enjoying a good start to the season 12 months ago while with Mark Johnston and even though not many horses improve for leaving Mark Johnston yard he looks a typical Fahey handicapping type and could well spring a surprise here by landing this handicap if tackling the soft ground well, which on breeding and given his action should be no problem and could start the season of well for team Fahey in handicaps as he gained a lot of experience in these types of races last season while only 3yo.

My rating - 124

16. Vitznau - Another 4yo in this handicap which have a good record in recent years and Richard Hannon is long overdue a winner in this handicap. A winner over 7F at Epsom last season he has a consistent profile having made the frame in over half of his races so far. The ground is another factor that he needs to prove effective on as well as the trip and he is very unexposed and dangerous in the make up this handicap with his trainer knowing what it takes to land this prize.

My rating - 119

17. Watamu - Comes here of the back of a thumping win over last seasons Lincoln winner on the all weather 12 months ago and after missing the turf season last year he needs to prove his fitness here today and the connections of the horse will be hoping that the rain doesn't make it to soft for this horse who has a quick moving action that is well suited to the polytrack or very fast ground and is likely to be a non-runner today with the conditions against him.

My rating - 114

18. Fremen - Was quite well fancied for the Cambridgeshire after a good run of form and caught the eye in that handicap as he finished well to finish 7th having found some trouble in running and could well be up to winning another big handicap this season for sprint king Dandy Nichols. Handles plenty of cut and loves a galloping mile the big field and strong pace should suit him as well and with good early season form in the book already he should give a good account of himself as he isn't over raced for a 8yo and with recent runs in Dubai he could well run a big race.

My rating - 117

19. Smokey Oakey - A impressive winner at the end of last season at Ayr on heavy ground as he bolted up from a consistent performer at class 3 level and looks up to improving further this season for the Tompkins yard who have made a name for themselves in recent seasons. Mile looks the ideal trip for this horse and the course should play to his strength as he handles a flat track well. Stays further then a mile the stamina side of him shouldn't suffer with a strong pace likely for the conditions. Handles give in the ground to the extreme and should improve further this season and have class 2 handicaps win to his name already.

My Rating - 124

20. Dhaular Dhar - Should be using this as a stepping stone towards Chester cup meeting where he usually comes good with his best runs as he is suited to tight turning tracks, however he showed in the Banbury cup last season that a straight seven furlongs suit with a fast finishing 4th in that event and handles any trip between 6F and a mile with his form over a mile maybe shading it these day's. Has patchy form at this level but he is better now then he was in his younger days as he has taken his time into growing into a decent handicapper. Today's race looks quite a strong one and while he has improved with age its hard to draw any more improvement out of him and sharper track may be where he strikes again of this weight.

My rating - 115

21. Escape Route - quite a few fancied him to land the Lincoln even though his stable mate was the strong favourite who won the handicap and after making quite a good impression when winning at Goodwood he hasn't carried that form on in Dubai even though the run behind the highly progressive Black cat Black Kitten stands up well of this current mark he could well be ready to strike for John Gosden who is more renowned for his younger horses then his handicappers. Still unexposed he has improvement to come and the tougher conditions may help him along as he has the stamina for further being by elusive Quality.

My rating - 117

22. Temple Place - Created a shock when winning at Chester last season at 50-1 and was only seen once after that when being well beaten at York in a handicap that worked out well. Stays further then this mile trip he has a absence to overcome which is a concern with not the best record fresh and with improvement needed to be winning a class 2 handicap. Bottom weight gives him a chance and the steering of Robert Winston a former winner of this handicap is eye catching for Donald McCain who has had a cracking season over jumps.

My Rating - 117

Tissue Prices - Smokey Oakey, Annemasse 7/1, Yeaman's Hall 8/1, Babodana, Fajr 10/1, Vitaznu 12/1, Very Wise, Raptor 14/1, Temple Place, Escape Route, Fremen 16/1, European Dream, Dhaular Dhar, Rio Riva, Prince Forever 20/1, Little White Lie, Watmu 22/1, Mine, Azarole 25/1, Blytheknight 28/1, Classic Port 33/1, Clipperdown 50/1.

Verdict  The first big handicap of the season and with little known still about the new track at Doncaster the draw could pay a big part in this race, but on the basis of a few of the big field handicaps last season the draw looked to be quite fair across the track and the best horse in the conditions should come out on top. A good mixture of exposed and unexposed handicappers and some old favourites in this race including 3 past winners it looks a solid handicap to open the flat season and with winter ground it could be quite a slog and expect the ground softer then forecasted. The higher numbers could well have the most pace but the centre of the course could be where the race is run and Fajr looks overpriced in this handicap along with Annemasse on first start for Richard Fahey while Yeaman's Hall looks the best of the two horses that have had only a handful of runs so far. Babodana looks nicely handicapped again and could run a big race in a race he has won, while Smokey Oakey was so impressive on last run last year he should carry on his improvement despite the rise of 9lbs. It's a lottery but the prices reflect that.

Selection  1 pt win Annemasse @ 20 (BF25's) + 2 pts Smokey Oakey  @ 8-1 (BF9's)
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Well Chief