For those of you who may have missed this, I began writing for BestofBets just before and during the Cheltenham Festival, and having put on a flawless display of handicap fancies throughout the week (they all lost), Bestofbets has brought me back to redeem myself with my weekly column previewing the weekend’s racing from an ante-post perspective.
Now, in my defense, four of the horses picked up each-way money with online bookmakers, but still, a disappointing effort nonetheless at jump racing’s Olympics.
And what a week to bring me back as it’s the start of the flat season proper with Doncaster’s Lincoln Handicap taking centre stage.
I can’t wait for the flat season, not because I hate the jumps (I am actually a jumps man through and through), but as with every new season, the excitement of seeing what these horses can do on the big stage is a feeling that can’t quite be described.
So, without any more delay, here are three horses I’m keen on for the Lincoln weekend beginning Saturday, April 1st.
Quick into stride
HORSE: Fast Response
RACE: Pertemps Network Cammidge Trophy Stakes (3:00 Doncaster)
PRICE: 14/1 with William Hill
It’s only taken me until the third race of the turf season to nail my colours to the mast and those colours happen to be the black and white of Nick Bradley Racing as FAST RESPONSE is of good interest to me.
She's away and gone! ????
Fast Response runs away with the listed Wentworth Stakes at @DoncasterRaces for @karl_burke and @NBradleyRacing ????pic.twitter.com/uihE2DiAlL
— Sporting Life Racing (@SportingLife) November 5, 2022
The four-year-old Fast Company offspring is one of three fillies in the line-up, so she receives a five-pound allowance from the boys, however, having won a Listed race after August 31st, 2022, she has a three-pound penalty on top of that.
Looking closer at her last run, she was very good on heavy ground over course and distance to win by two lengths.
She was officially nine pounds wrong at the weights the third, Art Power, and 12 pounds wrong with Commanche Falls, the fifth who reappears here, because of her three-year-old and fillies allowances.
RACE 2 RESULT – British Stallion Studs @BritishEBF Maiden Stakes (GBB Race)
???? Fast Response
???? El Bodegon
Owners: Nick Bradley Racing 39
????: @FranAltoftPhoto pic.twitter.com/zkluAHONwK
— Windsor Racecourse (@WindsorRaces) July 6, 2021
She has yet to lose on ground slower than soft from her four runs in the conditions with one of those occurring on just her second start, a Winsdor maiden over six furlongs when she beat El Bodegon, now trained by Chris Waller, who was a Grade 1-winning juvenile.
All form points to her and at 14/1, I will be siding with her.
For King and country in the feature
RACE: Pertemps Network Lincoln Handicap (3:35 Doncaster)
PRICE: 14/1 with William Hill
John & Thady Gosden’s SAGA is a horse I have had a mixed relationship with over the last season as I was an unfortunate backer of his when he was second by a head in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.
Ryan Moore does it again and more heartbreak for Frankie! Thesis wins the Britannia for the Charltons and @JuddmonteFarms at #RoyalAscot! pic.twitter.com/QRy5GPlXkW
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) June 16, 2022
It maybe wasn’t Frankie Dettori’s finest ride that day, but he was still brandished with an eight-pound hike in the weights for his next run, the Porsche Handicap, where he was eighth.
Following a mediocre Clipper Logistics run and a promising run behind Algiers, the now Dubai World Cup runner-up, at York in October, the four-year-old is now down to a mark of 102 and has the brilliant Benoit De La Sayette claiming three pounds off his back, so on Saturday, he will effectively only be two pounds higher than his Royal Ascot second.
The softer conditions at Doncaster for the Lincoln may not be to his absolute liking, but the team at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket has given him a gelding operation over the winter and his form from last season to run into three eventual Guineas winners in Maljoom, Coroebus, and Modern Games reads very well.
I’ll be in his camp for the feature.
However, and this is a big however, if ISLA KAI gets into the race (he currently needs nine to come out ahead of him to get a run) then I will also be backing him.
He loves softer conditions and is down to a mark of 92 – he is good first time out and if he gets a run, 40/1 is massive about this Nigel Tinkler five-year-old.
If he doesn’t get a run, he will most likely take in the Spring Mile (the Lincoln consolation race) earlier on the card and I will be backing him for that race as soon as markets open after declarations.
HORSE: Sleeping Lion
RACE: Racing TV Queen’s Prize Handicap (3:15 Kempton)
My final thoughts come from the decent action at Kempton on the all-weather and SLEEPING LION looks to have a good chance off a mark of 99.
Sleeping Lion comes with a smooth challenge to take the latest @awchamps Fast-Track Qualifier, galloping clear in the @UnibetRacing Conditions Stakes to score in the hands of @davidprobert9 for the @RogerCharlton partnership ???? pic.twitter.com/bGB8K1cBwP
— Kempton Park Racecourse (@kemptonparkrace) February 5, 2022
This eight-year-old beat Roberto Escobar, Nayef Road, and Earlofthecotswolds last year in an All-Weather Championship Qualifier over course and distance when wrong at the weights with Nayef Road by nine pounds and Roberto Escobar by five pounds.
Harry & Roger Charlton’s gelding had a good reappearance at Kempton last month to blow the cobwebs off when he wasn’t fancied so back into handicap company off 99, I think he has the chance of running a big race.