You're Fired fancied to sack Lincoln field
Galway-born Costello can plunder major Flat success
A year after Mondialiste was thwarted late on, David O'Meara has another stab at the Betway Lincoln with Lord Of The Land.
Like the 2015 runner-up, Lord Of The Land is a French import making its debut for the superb young trainer in the £100,000 Doncaster feature.
Mondialiste went on to win a Canadian Grade One, and bookmakers are taking no chances on the Fermoy, Co Cork native's new recruit, making him a 4/1 favourite for the famous handicap.
A five-time winner from 10 starts, Lord Of The Land might be up to justifying those odds off a first-time rating of 102 for 9st 6lb.
Still, with the ground quite soft, this will be a real test, and there are better options available.
Express Himself and Bravo Zolo have each-way appeal at up to 10/1. On its last start at Haydock in October, the Ed McMahon-trained Express Himself knuckled down to win on slow ground off a mark of 93. He is eight pounds higher now, but remains a progressive individual that should run well.
Bravo Zolo has the benefit of race-fitness and Ryan Moore's presence in the saddle. In three starts for Jeremy Noseda, the four-year-old has been placed twice at Lingfield and won at Wolverhampton last month.
On that occasion, he raced keenly in the lead, but still had enough in reserve to repel Perfect Cracker and Our Channel, which are since unbeaten in three.
The other two runners to emerge from that race in the interim have won and been second, so the form book would suggest that Bravo Zolo should be a live player under a five-pound penalty.
While he is unproven on the ground, the progeny of his sire Rip Van Winkle handle soft well, and the suspicion is that Bravo Zolo has it within his range to go close, provided he settles.
That all said, the one that appeals most is You're Fired. A five-year-old that won three times and was placed twice from nine starts in 2015, Karl Burke's gelding is proven in the mud.
On his last two starts in Britain last year, he won at York and Nottingham, scoring quite resoundingly over an extended mile off a mark of 102 at the latter venue in November.
The form wouldn't be as hot as Bravo Zolo's, but that he is sure to relish the conditions and the trip is a big plus, likewise that he gets in off an unchanged rating for 9st 6lb. It's 12 years since any horse carried more than 9st 4lb to win a Lincoln, but the race is a far more compact affair these days, with a spread of eight pounds covering this year's 22-strong line-up.
As such, it is only a matter of time before a horse wins with that sort of weight, and You're Fired has a massive amount in its favour. At odds of 16/1 under Galway-born former jump jockey Dougie Costello, he is fancied to leave behind a rare below-par turn at Chantilly in November to score.
O'Meara's redoubtable Custom Cut reappears in the Listed mile.
The Roger Varian-trained Belardo is the market leader in this, and there is little doubt that he would be the one to beat if he runs to the pick of his Group One form. However, he is not one to trust, and John Gosden's Muwaary has had nearly two years off. If Custom Cut turns up on top of his game, he could take the spoils.
Third in this two years ago, he has continued to improve dramatically since, winning seven times in his last 14 outings.
Custom Cut took a Sandown Group Two on his 2015 return, so he clearly goes well fresh and odds of 4/1 here are too big to ignore.
Thursday's card at Aintree looks immense.
Willie Mullins has pledged to have a proper go at the British trainers' championship now that he is in touching distance of Paul Nicholls. That is something to rejoice in, because, even for a trainer of Mullins's calibre, the chance might not come around again, and he'll know as much. Earlier in the season, lots went right for him when he sent raiders across the water, and that is ultimately what set him up so well ahead of Cheltenham.
Mullins's full-blown assault on the title will lend a fascinating edge to events in Liverpool. He has entered 17 alone for Thursday's card, having had just 27 runners there over four seasons.
The mighty Douvan has been given the option of stepping up in trip for the Manifesto Novices' Chase, with Shaneshill also in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One.
Apple's Jade and Footpad could cross swords with Ivanovich Gorbatov again, and Augusta Kate is in the Grade Two bumper.
Then there is the small matter of Annie Power, Nichols Canyon and Vroum Vroum Mag in the Aintree Hurdle, while Mullins can choose from Djakadam, Don Poli, Valseur Lido and Vautour to take on Cue Card in the Bowl.
Regardless of what shape his battalion finally takes, it should be a thrilling start to the meeting.