Thursday 14 December 2017

Lahaag gets vote in Lincoln test of stamina

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A week after being lost to snow, the William Hill Lincoln looks set to get the all-clear at Doncaster this afternoon, albeit with a considerably different line-up.

Last week's top-weight Majestic Myles heads the page again, but just two of the eight others which originally featured at the upper end of the card now turn out. In all, 16 of the original 22 are among today's revised 22 for the prestigious handicap and half of the 16 have new jockeys due to some leading riders being on duty in Dubai.

As was the case first time round, Captain Bertie is the clear favourite. However, having won just twice in 17 runs and never on his a seasonal bow, the five-year-old remains opposable.

He was a well-beaten fourth off a mark of 84 on his reappearance in the Spring Mile here 12 months ago, so it's hard to fathom why he is so feared now off 94, given that his narrow neck win off 85 on his second start last term was his only triumph in six subsequent runs.


Of the six new arrivals at the bottom of the page, Chosen Character is possibly the most interesting for a place at up to 25/1, as he was progressive in winning five last term, including a couple in the sort of testing conditions that he will encounter here.

Richard Fahey's Justonefortheroad was available at similar odds last week, but is just 16/1 now. Given that he relishes the mud and goes well fresh, he is still of interest at those odds.

Despite losing marquee riders, Chapter Seven and Lahaag are the other two to keep on side. Rob Havlin subs for William Buick on Lahaag and Graham Lee replaces Jamie Spencer on Chapter Seven, which was a head to the good when the pair met on soft at York in October.

Chapter Seven is a pound worse off now and has plenty to do under 9st 1lb. Nonetheless, he is a course and distance winner that enjoys a true test, so odds of up to 10/1 are fair.

Lahaag, however, is fancied to turn the tables on him, as he is considerably less exposed. John Gosden's Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned son of Marju has run just four times.

Second on his Newmarket debut last year, he then won a maiden and a handicap over a mile, before signing off with that narrow defeat to Chapter Seven. Lahaag is up five pounds for that, but is the sort of horse that could yet develop into something more than a handicapper.

The York race in October was over nine furlongs and he saw it out well. He flashed his tail around a bit, but you couldn't fault his effort in any way, so that stamina might prove a valuable commodity given that today's contest over a mile will be a dour examination.

With just 8st 12lb to carry here, Lahaag is weighted to go very close, while he has the very same draw in stall six as he had a week ago. Given that the keen-running favourite is right beside him in trap seven, that again looks to be quite a favourable starting point.

Buick's absence is obviously disappointing, but Havlin is his chief deputy for Gosden, who is possibly the best judge of a rider in the business. As such, 8/1 about Lahaag is still value.

Effie B is another of note on Town Moor. Ridden by Cathy Gannon, Mick Channon's filly progressed well last term, scoring for a third time in a Newbury nursery on heavy ground off 84 in October, before finishing second in a Newmarket Listed race the following month.

Now rated 93, she needs to improve again to win the Cammidge Trophy, but the fact that she gets 18lbs from most of her serious rivals gives her a real squeak.

Of the three Irish-trained runners on duty at Carlisle, Twentypoundluck is the pick under James Reveley.

Pat Griffin's eight-year-old has been placed on its two starts since returning from a lay-off and ran really well to be second at Ayr last time. Off the same mark, he ought to go close.

Best Bet: Lahaag

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