William Haggas’s Mujtaba, the likely favourite for Saturday’s Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster, is a lightly-raced four-year-old with the potential to be a Group-class performer before too long, which is very much the profile of recent winners of this historic handicap.
That list includes Haggas’s Addeybb, who landed three Group Ones after winning on Town Moor in 2018, but while Mujtaba has obvious claims for this year’s renewal, several of his opponents arrive with similar records.
Saleymm and Modern News, a half-brother to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, Modern Games, both have scope for significant improvement, while Darkness, who was campaigned in Group One company at two and has been gelded since joining David O’Meara from Jean-Claude Rouget over the winter, is another fascinating candidate.
At the likely prices, though, the best option from among the lightly-raced four-year-olds is Rogue Bear (3.35) at around 20-1.
Unraced at two, Tom Clover’s gelding won three of his five starts in 2021 and has crept in at the bottom of the weights on Saturday. He progressed from race-to-race last season, dead-heated in a useful time on his final start of the campaign and sets out on what promises to be a productive campaign just 2lb higher in the weights.
Doncaster 1.15 Eve Johnson Houghton has a healthy level-stakes profit with juveniles on debut over the last five years, so it would be no great surprise if Blatant has been primed to repeat the stable’s Brocklesby win with Chipotle 12 months ago.
Kelso 1.35 Son Of The Somme has just one win to show for his steady progress in four starts this season, but he was 15 lengths in front of the third horse home when touched off by a neck at Doncaster earlier this month. He is just 3lb higher here and Brian Ellison’s seven-year-old has scope for further improvement on just his eighth career start.
Doncaster 1.50 A competitive renewal of this Listed sprint, but Diligent Harry, the best three-year-old sprinter on the all-weather last year, still has untapped potential on turf and Clive Cox is the ideal trainer to draw it out.
Kempton 2.05 A 3lb penalty makes life a little more difficult for Fancy Man but Richard Hannon’s four-year-old has the best recent form – when third behind Alenquer and Group One-winner Lord North in the Winter Derby – and more scope for progress than most of these rivals.
Doncaster 2.25 Star Shield has few secrets from the handicapper but he has been in the form of his life on the all-weather over the winter and is still feasibly weighted for his return to the turf.
Kempton 2.40 Bandinelli, the likely favourite, and Moliwood arrive with similar profiles, having won over track and trip on their latest starts, and appeal as the two runners that are most likely to be a step in front of the handicapper. Marco Botti’s gelding, up just 2lb for his latest win and 5-1 in the early betting, makes more appeal at the prices.
Doncaster 3.00 Chindit acquitted himself well in Group One company last year, including when fifth in the 2,000 Guineas, and he will take plenty of beating on his four-year-old debut.
Kelso 3.15 Normal progress from her successful handicap debut at Musselburgh last time will make Rea Des Champs very competitive off a 4lb higher mark.