Racing: Lincoln to prove Niceguy can win
When trainers were given the chance to pick a stall for their horses two days ago, there seemed to be a general feeling that the low numbers, on the far side of the course, were the ones to be in, and in the Spring Mile over the Lincoln course and distance yesterday, the jockeys certainly seemed to agree. All but a handful made straight for the far rail the instant the stalls opened, and the pattern may well be repeated today.
This need not mean, however, that a low draw is essential. While Mozambique, the Spring Mile winner, left stall eight, the next three home came from 12, 18 and 19 respectively. As so often, in fact, it may be that the best stall to have is one near the early pace, which should be set by Albert The Bear (drawn 13) and Punishment (16), who is a rare French challenger for the race and presumably not running simply because John Hammond fancied a weekend in Yorkshire.
This does not, of course, narrow down the list significantly, and punters must instead rely on the old-fashioned virtues of form study and perhaps the odd prayer. There is no shortage of candidates, but the pick of the prices appears to be NOMORE MR NICEGUY (nap 3.10) at 10-1 with Coral and William Hill, who runs off joint bottom weight. The form of his recent second place on the all-weather track at Wolverhampton is very solid, with the winner, Fayik, finishing third in last weekend's valuable Lingfield Winter Derby. Eric Alston's runner is generously weighted if able to translate that form to the turf.
Alston has another fancied runner in the main supporting race, the Cammidge Trophy, in the shape of Tedburrow, but he will struggle to cope with Monaassib (next best 3.40), who won his first four races last season and thus seems unlikely to be in need of a pipe-opener.
The remainder of Doncaster's televised card is typical early-season racing which is best avoided for punting purposes, while the jumping from Newbury suffers from being at the opposite end of the campaign, and sandwiched between Cheltenham and Aintree too. Instead, punters may turn to the third running of the Dubai World Cup, and the horse which many feel to be the good thing of the day, Silver Charm.
Last year's Kentucky Derby victor will be the first winner of America's most prestigious Classic to race abroad for 63 years, but then, $4m (pounds 2.5m) can be a very persuasive purse.
So valuable is this race that success would double his career earnings, and this, remember, is the horse who won not only the Derby last year, but also the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and was just threequarters of a length away from becoming the first horse since 1978 to complete the set in the Belmont.
It will take a special performance - or a hitherto unsuspected aversion to long-distance travel - to beat him, and the British bookies are taking no chances by offering a top price of 11-10 against Bob Baffert's runner. Britain's only representative is Clive Brittain's Luso, while the Dubai- based Godolphin operation runs Predappio and Swain, last year's King George winner.
If there is any value to be had, however, it is probably the 11-1 available about Borgia (William Hill), who will have the invaluable assistance of Kieren Fallon and did particularly well to finish third to the brilliant Peintre Celebre in last October's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
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