James Doyle has won the past two runnings of the Lincoln Handicap in 2018 and 2019, including an easy success on Charlie Appleby’s Auxerre as 5-2 favourite two years ago, and the same trainer’s Eastern World gives him an obvious chance of a hat-trick on Saturday.
The four-year-old is just one of several runners in the field that could yet make their mark in a higher grade later in the season, however, along with Brentford Hope and Haqeeqy, for the newly licensed father-and-son team of John and Thady Gosden.
King Ottokar (3.10), who raced in Group One company at two, is another. He was an eye-catcher in two big-field handicaps in the autumn, has eased slightly in the weights and could be set for a very productive campaign.
Kempton 1.45 Global Giant beat only two runners home when finishing a long way behind stable companion Mishriff in the Saudi Cup last time, but that was his debut on dirt and he has plenty of form, both on turf and less demanding synthetic surfaces, that gives him an obvious chance.
Doncaster 2.00 Montatham’s form petered out slightly after a storming start to the delayed campaign in 2020, but he had a tricky draw in the Cambridgeshire and had previously looked like a Group horse in a handicap on at least three occasions.
Kempton 2.15 Two lightly-raced four-year-olds – Al Zaraqaan and Almighwar – head the market and either could find enough improvement to make a mockery of their current mark. Both are short enough in the betting for their seasonal debut, though, while Dark Pine is race-fit after wins in January and February, stopping the clock in a decent time on both occasions.
Doncaster 2.35 Several potential improvers catch the eye but none more so than Andrew Balding’s Arctic Vega, who improved when allowed to lead at Newcastle in January and has only five runs in the book.
Newbury 2.50 There is little to choose between the four-year-olds Good Ball and Hudson De Grugy on their form to date, though the market prefers Good Ball after a solid second place behind Gowel Road at Newbury in February. Hudson De Grugy posted a good time when successful off 122 at Sandown a fortnight ago, however, and has to be the pick at the likely odds.
Newbury 3.25 Marada is a little more exposed than some of her opponents but she is still improving on the evidence of her recent win at Huntingdon. Her stamina for Saturday’s step up to two and a half miles needs to be taken on trust, but that is factored into a price of around 8-1 and drying ground should help her to get home.
Doncaster 3.45 The redoubtable Brando, now nine years old, seems likely to start favourite for the 46th race of his career, and would have an outstanding chance if back to the form of his narrow defeat by Glen Shiel in the Group One Champions Sprint in October. He needed the run on his first start in 2019 and 2020, though, and could be vulnerable to a consistent, race-fit rival such as Summerghand.