RACING: Martini to quench Eyre pair

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Les Eyre will saddle two fancied runners, Mahool and Celestial Choir, in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster this afternoon, so you might expect him to have some useful observations about the likely threats to his team among the remaining entries. He does. "The dangers?", Eyre said yesterday. "All 22 of them."

There, in just six words, is the best description of the Lincoln which you are likely to find. Money risked on this ferocious straight-mile handicap, run from gate to post at a pace more suited to a five-furlong sprint, is almost inevitably money lost. And as ever, the draw seems sure to play a crucial role.

Every year, Doncaster's clerk of the course claims that stall positions will have no bearing on the outcome of the Lincoln. Time and again it is proved to be nonsense, though Eyre, at least, can take comfort from the fact that his runners are drawn on opposite sides of the track. "It generally seems to favour the far side and Celestial Choir is drawn on the near, but she seems to be with the faster horses," he said yesterday.

Eyre must be a fairly happy man if only because it is better to enter a lottery with two tickets than with one, but sees no reason to compare his runners. "You know me better than that," he said. "Do you want me to lose an owner? Mahool loves fast ground and the faster it gets the better his chance, while Celestial Choir is a really tough mare, and I think you need a horse that's tough to get that mile. There's nowhere to get a breather, they just jump and go."

Celestial Choir certainly appears to be a Lincoln type, and the result of yesterday's Spring Mile over course and distance showed that it is possible to win from a high stall. Preference, though, is for two horses on the other side of the track and at opposite ends of the market.

Michael Stoute rarely struggles to get his horses ready early, so Knave's Ash must have every chance, while Mr Martini, drawn next door in stall four, may be overpriced at around 33-1. He ran well in several big handicaps last year when Clive Brittain's stable was suffering a miserable run which resulted in the Classic-winning trainer finishing the season 35th in the table.

Brittain saddled the Brocklesby winner on Thursday, however, and the 33-1 winner of the stayers' handicap at Doncaster yesterday. His horses are returning to their best and Mr Martini (3.40) could go close, while on the same principle Cedez Le Passage (4.15) must have a good chance in the Doncaster Shield.

The horse everyone is waiting for, Celtic Swing, will be staying at home for a few weeks yet, but the form of his marvellous juvenile campaign will be tested for the first time today. Juyush, who was just a speck on the horizon when third to Celtic Swing in the Racing Post Trophy, contests the conditions race at 3.00 against potentially useful animals. If he finishes down the field, the nerves of punters holding ante-post Guineas tickets for Celtic Swing may start to unravel.

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