Racing: Vortex drawn into heart of Lincoln action

All the theorising, all the walking of the track, and all the warm conversation about which side of the course would be most advantageous for this afternoon's Lincoln was yesterday rendered as valuable as a discarded torn ticket on the racecourse steps.

All the theorising, all the walking of the track, and all the warm conversation about which side of the course would be most advantageous for this afternoon's Lincoln was yesterday rendered as valuable as a discarded torn ticket on the racecourse steps.

It seemed that all the hot air generated on the subject had somehow found its way onto the far side of the straight mile on Town Moor. For, against all perceived wisdom, the low numbers held sway in yesterday's Lincoln consolation race, the Spring Mile.

From the time Lincoln racecourse closed in 1964 and the one-mile Lincolnshire Handicap was first transported as the Irish Sweeps Lincoln to Doncaster, much time has been expended on trying to establish which side of the course was most favourable for the first leg of the Spring Double. Get that conundrum right and you are 50 per cent nearer finding the winner.

When Babodana won 12 months ago, from a selection of fellow high-drawn beasts, it seemed final confirmation that those starting from near the stands also appeared to be starting from nearer the finish.

All that, however, exploded yesterday. When Barathea Dreams led home Flipando and Sew'n'So Character, all the action was out over the other side of the course and the winner had maintained a remarkable modern record for the horse emerging from the No 1 stall.

That auspicious honour this afternoon falls to Resplendent One, who is neither compromised by having Kieren Fallon at the controls. Not far away is the well-fancied Divine Gift, whose No 6 draw no longer looks the anchor of yesterday.

A representative of the flying Michael Jarvis yard, the four-year-old won a conditions race on the same card 12 months ago. "The horses are looking great, working well and running well so I just hope it continues that way," Philip Robinson, the jockey, said yesterday.

"We are just keeping our fingers crossed, as the race is a bit of a cavalry charge and is very tough. You have got to be on the right side for one thing and have got to be drawn with the right horses. Luckily with this horse you can ride him quite handily and can always be there, so the draw isn't so much of a worry. He is comfortable doing his own thing if he has to."

Babodana's trainer, Mark Tompkins, is represented this time around by St Petersburg. "I didn't have a choice with the draw last year, I was the last one out and had to go high [23], but I think that Divine Gift is one of the main dangers," he said. "He is a good horse and I wanted to be near him, so when he drew six, I went five, which is perfect for me. The only place you don't want to be is in the middle, because the jockeys won't know which way to go."

Others worthy of study include Wing Commander, 2lb lower than when fourth in this last year, and Tom Hogan's Common World, who will be attempting to become the first Irish-trained horse to win since Saving Mercy for Dermot Weld and Walter Swinburn in 1984. Market moves this week suggest the Irish have not saved all their winning for the Cheltenham Festival.

Yet the running of the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton last month suggests that the best form belongs to Gay Kelleway's runner. With the influence of the draw stripped out, VORTEX (nap 3.20) is the sensible selection. "He is a good horse and has got good form," Martin Dwyer, Barathea Dreams' jockey yesterday, said. "He ran in Japan and pulled a muscle so Gay has done very well to bring him back.

"He has got a good chance in the Lincoln as he is a horse that will suit a race with lots of runners. He likes to get there late and can get lots of cover. He does idle when he hits the front but he travels so well and you always think that you should kick, but he has got a burst of 100 yards. He takes a fair bit of knowing and riding, but the Lincoln will bring the best out in him."

* Museeb earned quotes of 33-1 from totesport and 40-1 from William Hill for the 2,000 Guineas following a convincing victory in a maiden stakes at Doncaster yesterday. John Dunlop's colt sprinted clear to score by five lengths from Dabbers Ridge. Asked if Museeb could develop into a Guineas contender, rider Richard Hills said: "It's very early to say. The Guineas is only a month away."

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