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Rejuvenated Fury to show true class

This afternoon's Lincoln is possibly as good a renewal of the famous Doncaster handicap as has been run for some time.

With seven horses rated 100 or higher topping the 22-runner William Hill-sponsored blitz, it is just the second time in 10 years that there have been more than six of that calibre taking part in the one-mile highlight.

No fewer than 12 lined out in 2008, when Smokey Oakey beat previous winners Blythe Knight and Bobadana in a cracking affair.

Pat Smullen flies in to take the mount on the top-weight Edinburgh Knight today for Paul D'Arcy, a horse that won its final two starts last term. While Smullen's booking is a positive, Edinburgh Knight is up against it under his burden, as is Eton Forever.

The Roger Varian-trained gelding landed the consolation prize here 12 months ago, but the market leader doesn't appeal off an 11lb higher mark now.

Cocozza, on its first start for Marco Botti after switching from John Oxx's, remains unexposed and is certainly one for the each-way market, likewise Don't Call Me.

While Dandy Nicholls' five-year-old has more miles clocked, he turned in his best performance of his debut season for the northern handler when the re-application of a tongue-tie helped him to a commanding Ayr win on his final outing in September. A hold-up horse that will be suited by a fast pace, he can outrun odds of 20/1 here.

The real handicap snip, however, could be Fury. Trained by William Haggas, who has mastered the Lincoln twice since 2007, the Invincible Spirit four-year-old won his two starts as a juvenile, including a decisive victory in a sales race at Newmarket.

Fifth to Frankel in the Guineas last year, he then got chinned in a decent Listed race at Sandown. Thereafter his form tailed off, leaving him on a favourable mark here of 98 for 9st 4lb that is further alleviated by Adam Beschizza's 3lb claim.

Having been gelded during the winter, it's entirely possible that we will now see a rejuvenated Fury, and his draw in stall nine gives his rider the option to go either way. At around 7/1, it would be no surprise if the partnership were to prove a class apart.

In this year's Spring Mile, Shamdarley gets the nod to prevail in what is a tight-looking event. Mont Ras is of real interest for David O'Meara, having landed each of its first three starts for the Fermoy native in 2011.

Fourth when held by just over a length at York last July, Mont Ras has more improvement in him, but Shamdarley is preferred. Three times a winner over a mile and 10 furlongs in 2011, Michael Dodds' charge loves to come from off the pace.

He is the type that does need things to fall his way, but he won and was third on his two previous tries at Doncaster's straight mile.

penalty

With a 5lb penalty for scoring at York in October still leaving him with just 9st 3lb on his back, he could be the one.

In Dubai, Aidan O'Brien saddles six horses as he goes in search of a first winner at the World Cup. With many of the Ballydoyle runners looking as though they will come on for their first outings this term, his Meydan team is not easy to assess.

Nonetheless, So You Think and St Nicholas Abbey are the standard-bearers in their respective Grade Ones, and it's unlikely O'Brien would submit either horse to such a gruelling venture if he didn't expect them to go close.

In a middling edition of the World Cup, So You Think, which has won on each of its three seasonal bows, will be better for his initial non-turf experience in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

St Nicholas Abbey, an emphatic winner of the Turf at Churchill Downs, has more on his plate earlier, but might just be able to build on that November fillip.

Best Bet: So You Think

Irish Independent