March was a marvellous month for us, with both stats that matter pieces coming up with the winners of the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. It looked as though the 1-2-3 was on the cards in the big one, but a fast finish from Minella Rocco spoiled the party. The flat is back this weekend and the big race is The Lincoln Handicap. Below we will look at the stats that matter for this heritage handicap, and hopefully we can make it three from three.
Last 5 Lincoln Handicap Winners
|2016||Secret Brief||Charlie Appleby||William Buick||4||12/1|
|2015||Gabrial||Richard Fahey||Tony Hamilton||6||12/1|
|2014||Ocean Tempest||John Ryan||Adam Kirby||5||20/1|
|2013||Levitate||John Quinn||Darren Egan||5||20/1|
|2012||Brae Hill||Richard Fahey||Tony Hamilton||6||25/1|
Beware Of Backing The Old Boys
As is usually the case, age is an important factor to consider when looking at these big handicaps. The history books show that this race is a tough task for older horses, and indeed you have to go all the way back to 8yo Hunters of Brora in 1998 to find the last winner older than six. Since then there have been 7 winning 4yos, 6 winning 5yos and 5 winning 6yos.
That would suggest sticking to horses in that age bracket, and it enables us to rule out quite a few. Seven of the top 25 left in at the moment are aged older than six and it means we can put a line through some fancied ones. 7yo Top Notch Tonto has been well touted, but the stats say he can be ruled out. Former winner Gabriel is now an 8yo while another of Richard Fahey’s entries, Heaven’s Guest, is a 7yo. A line can be put through those two too, and we will narrow the field further below.
Weighing Up The Weights
Of the 16 winners since the turn of the century, 9 have carried less than 9 stone. However, only one winner since 2000 has carried more than 9st 4lbs to victory, and that was Babodana back in 2004. Using this stat allows us to rule out another five horses including the likely favourite Morando, currently priced up at 5/1, who is due to carry 9st 5lbs.
13/2 second favourite Yuften is another casualty off 9st 6lbs and we can also rule out 16/1 shot Third Time Lucky who carries 9st 7lbs. In total it allows us to cut six horses, and that leaves us with eight runners that tick the first two boxes. We are getting closer to pinning down the winner, and the final factor to consider is previous course form.
Course Form Is Key
Of the last seven winners of this race, all bar Ocean Tempest had either won or been placed at Doncaster beforehand. Even Ocean Tempest had run well to be 5th in the consolation Spring Mile the year before he won, so it could be argued that all seven had strong course form to their names before winning The Lincoln.
That allows us to eliminate another three horses, with Zhui Feng, Eddystone and Bravery the ones to miss out. None of those three have ever even raced at Doncaster before, and while they may well handle the track the stats suggest that it pays to stick with horses that have course experience. That leaves us with six of the best, and to find out who looks the most likely winner just read below.
The Final Cut
Of the horses that remain, Donncha is the shortest price at 10/1 and he was well backed during the week once the news broke that Jamie Spencer had been booked. However, he is 8lb above his highest winning mark and he has to prove he is better than his rating of 100. Mares don’t have a great record in The Lincoln, and at odds of 40/1 it could be tough for Lucy The Painter in a race of this nature off 100.
Instant Attraction was a good 2nd in the Spring Mile last year, but he looks in the grip of the handicapper. Steel Train has a good record here and he took a course and distance handicap off 88 back in November. He has had a couple of runs to put him straight and he could be dangerous at 33/1. I have already backed Master Carpenter at 40s, and if he is fit he is handicapped to run a big race for Rod Millman and Lulu Stanford.
However, at odds of 25/1 Dolphin Vista looks a very interesting contender off 100 with Paul Hanagan booked. Richard Fahey is a trainer that has a solid record in this race, winning it in 2012 and 2015. Dolphin Vista won his first turf start last season, he has placed course form and he will handle cut in the ground. The stats suggest that this 4yo has a lot in his favour, and if he gets a decent draw he is capable of going very close.
Lincoln Handicap Prediction:
1. Dolphin Vista 25/1 Ladbrokes
2. Master Carpenter 40/1 William Hill
3. Donncha 10/1 Paddy Power
4. Steel Train 33/1 Skybet