The Lincoln Handicap, which has been run over a mile on Town Moor, Doncaster since the closure of Lincoln Racecourse in 1965, is always highly competitive. The traditional curtain-raiser for the Flat season proper has actually produced three winning favourites in the last 10 years but, with winners at 25/1, 22/1, 20/1 (twice) and 16/1 in the same period, it’s just the sort of race in which we like to get involved.
I noticed earlier in the week that our friends the enemy were quite happy to lay 100/1, or 200/1, in the ante post market about horses with no earthly chance of making it into the race, never mind winning it but, lo and behold, once the final declarations were published, they wouldn’t lay a single horse at odds longer than 33/1. If you’re lucky enough to back a winning outsider, you want a ‘proper’ return for your money, so my advice would be to boycott the bookmakers altogether and place your bets on Betfair, at Betfair Starting Price, instead.
The consequences of Lincoln (25/1), trained by Mick Channon, winning the Lincoln are almost too hilarious to contemplate, but the 4-year-old was in decent form when last seen in September and doesn’t look overburdened, off a handicap mark of 97, for his first attempt at a mile. His 1½-length defeat of Newstead Abbey (gave 1lb) over 7 furlongs at Chester was a creditable effort and he suggested on his previous visit to the Cheshire track, when fourth over 7 furlongs 122 yards, that a mile is within his compass.
As a former winner of the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, Belgian Bill (20/1) is clearly effective over a straight mile and the son of Exceed And Excel has been in excellent form in Dubai over the winter. He’s just 2lb higher in the weights than when winning a 95-105 contest, over a mile on good going, at Meydan in January and, having run creditably in defeat on both subsequent starts over 1 mile 2 furlongs, appears to have an obvious chance. He’s drawn in stall 2, which may not be ideal, but the draw has proved inconclusive in the Lincoln in recent years.
Just to be on the safe side, though, we’d better have one that’s drawn high as well, so the suggestion is Boom And Bust (33/1), who’s 2lb lower in the weights than when fifth of eight, beaten 1¾ lengths, in a decent handicap at Leicester in October and remains on his lowest handicap mark since winning the Shergar Mile at Ascot three seasons ago. Apprentice Jordan Vaughan can do 7st 12lb, so can claim all his 5lb allowance and that might just make the difference.
So, in the annual guessing game that is the Lincoln, our three against the field are, in order of preference, Belgian Bill (20/1 generally available), Lincoln (25/1 generally available) and Boom And Bust (33/1 generally available). The chances are that all three will be available at longer prices on Betfair on Saturday, so have fun and good luck!