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Craig Porter 25th Mar 2009 - 13:32

William Hill Lincoln betting preview

The Flat season curtain raiser, the William Hill Lincoln, takes place on Saturday so to build up the anticipation we have some great insight into the big race.

Niall Hannity caught up with jockeys Jim Crowley and Philip Makin as they share their thoughts on their Lincoln rides while Ross Brierley, one of the William Hill Radio team, gives his tips for the feature event, below.

Listen to Jim Crowley discussing his chances on board Titan Triumph

Listen to Philip Makin talk about his Lincoln ride, Flipando

Ross Brierley's preview:

The countdown began for some hardy souls the moment the runners crossed the line for the November Handicap, but for more realistic souls, the five day declarations for the Lincoln will have sparked interest in the Flat season curtain raiser for the first time.

Plenty of money has been bandied about in the past week or so; most of it in the direction of the John Gosden trained Expresso Star, as well as Fireside for Michael Jarvis and Swop for Luca Cumani.

Unsurprisingly, the punters have been latching on to the unexposed, ‘sexy’ four year olds with top class handicap form from last season.  In fact, if you discount the two away days at Newcastle and Redcar, the last four winners were all unexposed four year olds.

If you’re a trends man, and for these big field handicaps where certain horses are always targeted by shrewd trainers, you have to be to some extent, it’s interesting to note that the past ten winners have all won over a straight mile.

This immediately rules out the well backed favourite, Expresso Star. While he certainly fits into the progressive four year old category, his three wins last year came over 9 furlongs at Hamilton and twice over 10 furlongs at Nottingham. Granted, he ran very well at Newmarket over their straight mile on his second start, but his real improvement appeared when he encountered soft ground and an extended 9 furlongs or further.

In fact, a horse of more interest is the second favourite, also trained by John Gosden and owned by Princess Haya, Charm School. He was last seen finishing a close third over 7 furlongs at Doncaster in November. Unfortunately, he is yet to win over a straight mile, with his only victory being over 7 at Town Moor. Yet, given a clearer run, he would have won that well contested race and be up in the handicap more than the four pounds he was raised for placing. His two best runs have also come at Doncaster, and while he would prefer rain softened ground, as long as the going doesn’t include the word firm, he should be ok.

Other horses to note at the head of the market are Swop, who has won at Doncaster in the past and progressed nicely in a short campaign in Dubai and comes into this in tip top form, and Huzzah, who hails from a yard in cracking nick and finished third in a hot handicap won by Virtual over CnD last year. However, he was beaten off his current mark of 99 a total of five times last season and has to improve.

Further down the field that day was a horse that is of definite interest at a massive price from a less fashionable angle. Mia's Boy was a highly progressive four year old last season and improved a massive 30lbs by the close of the season. While a progressive four year old is preferred, Chris Dwyer’s five year old only ran once as a two-year-old, so has a very similar profile to your typical progressive third season animal.  He won 3 out of his 4 runs on a straight mile last year, including a victory over course and distance, and his only defeat was when he was so badly hampered that his jockey nearly fell off before running on again at the death behind the aforementioned Virtual. A mark of 102 asks a lot, but it isn’t insurmountable.

Whatever happens, the flat is back, hopefully with a boom and when those 22 animals burst from the gates, there might not be a Cheltenham-esque roar to contend with, but what a sight for the spectators and hopefully, we might even find the winner.

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