The Lincoln Handicap is the first major prize on the Flat in early-April and our expert looks ahead to the Doncaster contest with an each-way fancy at long odds.
- The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland.
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The top southern yards all have an eye on the Lincoln Handicap from the previous autumn, and the market is already speaking in their favour, but David O’Meara remains the name I’m immediately drawn to at Doncaster and it looks like he’s got a couple of nice contenders again this time around.
O’Meara won the race in 2017 with Bravery, who had previously been with Aidan O’Brien, and he had trained the fourth the year before that, after saddling the second in 2015 and the third in 2014, while he’s since gone close with Lord Glitters, who was runner-up to Addeybb in 2018, and Hortzadar, who finished third two years ago.
Orbaan also acquitted himself well in the race in 2021 and he went on to win Goodwood’s valuable Golden Mile last summer, a race O’Meara also won in 2020, so it’s pretty clear we’re dealing with one of the best target trainers around, especially when it comes to these big-field mile handicaps.
The five-year-old Zozimus could be interesting on debut for the yard having been picked up from Donnacha O’Brien’s for 30,000 guineas by The Horse Watchers, but it’s fellow Irish recruit BOPEDRO who appeals most at this stage as he’s had more time to bed into his new surroundings and will be more familiar with the O’Meara routine by now.
Bopedro was formerly trained by Jessica Harrington (Jim Bolger before that, plus two handlers in France and one in the UAE) and finished a creditable eighth on lively enough going in last year’s Royal Hunt Cup when having his last appearance for her.
He’d won a straight-track, seven-furlong handicap at Cork on his seasonal debut in 2021 before adding to his tally later that summer in the hugely competitive Irish Cambridgeshire, where he didn’t just win but fairly bolted up by two and a half lengths on good ground from the 9/2 market leader Moddy Poddle and third Fastnet Crown, who has won two valuable handicaps since and has been doing okay out in Dubai this winter.
Rated 107 in Ireland after that success and 103 when catching the eye at the Royal meeting last summer, Bopedro starts his 2023 campaign off 97 after ending last term with a staying-on second behind Totally Charming over seven furlongs at this venue (replay below).
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He’ll be 4lb better off with that rival if reopposing, he’s won twice after long layoffs in the past, goes on good to firm as well as soft/heavy (plenty of wet days in the long-range forecast), and just looks a bit written off as a 40/1 shot, presumably because of his age and relatively exposed profile.
I’ll take him to shock some of the young guns, with arguably the most progressive and exciting of the lot – Clive Cox’s four-year-old Kingdom Come – having no real chance of making the cut as number 72 on the list of entries, even with a 5lb penalty for his latest Kempton romp.
William Haggas has obvious chances with Al Mubhir and Montassib, with Roger Varian’s Akhu Najla looking potentially very dangerous if the heavy showers stay away and the ground remains on top.
Charlie Fellowes’ Atrium is arguably a more solid proposition towards the top of the weights as he’s absolutely deadly on these straight courses, and clearly still on the up having won here from solid yardstick Empirestateofmind when last seen in September, but he looked to just need his first run back at Musselburgh this time last year, and there’s got to be a chance he’ll be trained to peak back at Ascot in June.
Johan won last year for Mick Channon and it would come as no surprise whatsoever if his son, Jack, has been lining Majestic up for a crack at the race in recent weeks. He’s gone up just 7lb for an impressive win in the Cambridgeshire when last sighted but that time off since the end of September would have to be a little bit of a niggle if having a bet around the 14/1 mark.
Published at 1600 GMT on 20/03/23
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