Exhibit can display proof of progress under Fahey
This afternoon's William Hill Lincoln is a typically competitive renewal of the first major handicap of the new Flat season. A field of 22 goes to post for the one-mile feature at Doncaster, with Johnny Murtagh's mount, Penitent, having come in for considerable support in recent days.
Trained by William Haggas, Penitent is an unexposed four-year-old. He has run just five times, all last season, winning twice and finishing second on three occasions. Having drawn the inside berth, it is understandable that Penitent is fancied to defy a five-pound penalty for a two-and-a-quarter-length defeat on his final start of 2009 last October. He may well prove progressive enough to do so, but, at a best-priced 3/1, any value about him is long gone in a race of this nature.
Of more interest are two of Richard Fahey's five runners, Prime Exhibit and Albaqaa. The latter is drawn in stall 19 on the stands' side, which isn't really a negative, given that four of the last six Lincoln winners have been drawn high.
Victorious over 10 furlongs in the past, Albaqaa will have no problems over a mile on soft ground. However, with 22 runs, he is well enough exposed, and he wasn't spared when third on his reappearance at Wolverhampton. With that in mind, Albaqaa looks more of an each-way prospect, but is value for that at 16/1.
Prime Exhibit has more scope for improvement. Lightly raced, the Selkirk gelding was making just his eighth career start when he finished last season with a good second in a decent race on soft ground over a mile at Salisbury.
Since then, Prime Exhibit has switched from Roger Charlton's stable and he caught the eye when staying on keenly under a tender ride on his debut for Fahey at Wolverhampton, having met trouble in running on more than one occasion. That effort over six furlongs was an ideal prep for this.
Off bottom weight and with William Carson's three-pound claim cancelling out his rise in the ratings for that second-placed effort in October, Prime Exhibit looks over-priced at 12/1 for what would be a third career success.
In the consolation race for those that failed to make the cut for the Lincoln, the William Hill Spring Mile, Ben Chorley is fancied to regain the winning thread after a disappointing 2009. A horse that has had his problems, the six-year-old returned from a year off to record a three-timer on soft ground the previous season.
Last term, he failed to make an impact in two outings on fast ground, and hasn't been seen since the last of those, when he ran poorly in the John Smith's Cup.
Ben Chorley now makes his debut for David Evans, off a mark just one pound higher than when he completed his hat-trick two years ago. With the ground to suit, it would be no surprise to see him return to form under Cathy Gannon.
The Listed race that divides the two big handicaps is also well contested. Fifteen runners are set to line out for the six-furlong contest, but a line can be drawn through the various fast-ground performers.
Last year's winner Prime Defender has been in reasonable form on the all-weather in Dubai in recent weeks. While he handles slow ground, though, he doesn't excel on it, and Pusey Street Lady, which chased him home in second 12 months ago, may exact her revenge.
Having also won on the 2008 card when the going was soft, John Gallagher's mare obviously goes well fresh. With the ground in her favour again, Pusey Street Lady has a good chance of finding the half-length she went down by in 2009.
Further afield, the Dubai World Cup concludes the racing carnival at Sheikh Mohammad's new Meydan track.
Twice Over sets the standard after closing 2009 by completing a three-timer in the Champion Stakes before finishing third to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Available at 11/2, he looks a solid option.
Best bet: Twice Over