Lancelot Du Lac has the best recent form and the Steward’s Cup winner did it well last time at Wolverhampton but on the figures he looks a slightly better horse on artificial surfaces and could be vulnerable @ 10/3. Perfect Pasture bounced back to his best at the end of last season winning two handicaps before just missing out in a listed race over course and distance. He will enjoy the ground and if in the same form and race fit, is a definite player @ 9/2. The value could lie with Teruntum Star @ 15/2 and Ice Age @ 12/1. Both give the impression there may be more to come, Teruntum Star has had little niggles that have held him back but he was starting to fulfil his potential at the backend of last season while Ice Age, who’s trainer Eve Johnson-Houghton won this race in 2012, produced a performance at the Curragh last September that would see him competitive at this level and had a pipe-opener at Lingfield in February. Danzeno struggled in Dubai and is best at a stiff six furlongs while Mr Lupton seems to have a class barrier as he has only ever won in big fields at class two level. One to note @ 33/1 is Robert Cowell’s Visionary who could be interesting if back to the form of his listed victory last May.
This will be quite the test of stamina if the rain forecast arrives and that will suit Dawson City who loves the mud and is strong stayer and could be the value of the race @ 8/1 after winning the Devon National at Exeter. Amore Alato makes his return to the track after more than a year off and even though he is well handicapped, this is quite an ask first time out with the yard hardly firing on all cylinders. The two improving types in the field have to be considered in Wotzizname and Thomas Patrick @ 9/2, the former’s defeat of Mount Mews looks good form though his jumping can be questioned while Thomas Patrick found the Devon National a little too much last time and will be happier back at this trip, but still has Dawson City to overcome. This track may not suit Shanroe Santos but he can still be competitive and it would be no surprise to see Lower Hope Dandy or Bells ‘N’ Banjos run well in what is an open looking handicap.
The early season cavalry charges on the flat are never easy to fathom though the last three winners of this race have been drawn four, six and eight which is interesting. Taqdeer @ 11/2 fits nicely into the draw scenario coming from stall three but having missed two years of his career it is a complete unknown as to his well being and ability, with the lack of experience in a large field such as this tempering enthusiasm. What’s The Story ran well on his return at Newcastle, shaped last season as though a mile would suit and with Ryan Moore booked obviously has to be on the shortlist @ 11/2, as should Pastime @ 33/1, who is closely matched with What’s The Story on their running at Doncaster back in November. Four year olds fair well in this race so the improving Humbert can go well @ 14/1 who is returning to turf for the first time since 2016, Original Choice will enjoy conditions and is already battle hardened in these type of handicaps and lightly raced Kynren @ 8/1 and Titus @ 25/1 all have to come into calculations.
This does look a good oppprtunity for Oistrakh Le Noir to win on his first foray into handicap company but his short price does reflect that. Mister Chow has already defeated Falcon Sun and it is doubtful whether the seven pound pull will reverse fortunes but both have work to do win this while Haulani does not look the easiest of rides though a return to his second behind Redicean over Christmas would put him in the mix @ 15/2. Ulysses was well beaten by Apple’s Shakira at Cheltenham but that form still entitles him to be competitive here @ 10/1 and he shaped as though further would suit while Cold Shoulder will enjoy conditions and could go well at 25/1.
A distinct lack of pace could make this a tactical affair with either Intern or Born To Be Alive with proven stamina and their ability to stay further, possible front runners. Born to Be Alive looks the value of the pair with conditions to his liking and should not be dismissed @ 12/1. Saddled with a three pound penalty and untried in the ground Tabarrak could be vulnerable @ 9/4 so the obvious one is Zabeel Prince. Having registered a very good figure at York in October he ‘bounced’ only eight days later at Ascot, the race clearly coming too soon. Having had a winter on his back Roger Varian’s late developer may well have improved and looks the one to beat @ 7/4.
A wide open novice handicap with the eight year old mare, Lady Of Lamanver returning to the race where she was demoted from first to second in 2016. She sets the standard @ 12/1 but is likely to be vulnerable to an improving type. Oscar Rose heads the market @ 7/1 but without a win over hurdles in six attempts, is surely worth taking on in a race like this. Roksana has won her last two starts comfortably and has to be of interest @ 10/1 despite Dan Skelton’s current form, as does Kalahari Queen who relished the step up in trip when winning an Exeter handicap by eight lengths. Sensulano ran well behind Midnight Tune and If You Say Run at Sandown in February, is open to more improvement and at the weights can reverse the form @ 14/1, her liking for heavy ground should be in her favour. Petticoat Tails, Jet Set and Black Tulip are three more to consider in a very competitive race.
To compound draw theories and in contrast to recent Spring Mile results the last three winners of the Lincoln have been drawn fifteen, twenty and twenty two! Addeybb accounted for Fire Brigade at Newmarket last September in what looked an above average handicap but there is a doubt about soft ground having slightly disappointed on it twice. By Pivotal, Addeybb should appreciate a bit of give in the ground but may just take after the American side of his pedigree. That does open the door for Fire Brigade @ 6/1 who will enjoy conditions and with Ryan Moore booked, is sure to go well. Last year’s winner Bravery is five pounds lower this time around and will likely be primed again by David O’Meara @ 20/1 and should be considered even though stable jockey Daniel Tudhope rides Lord Glitters who may just find things tough carrying nine stone, ten pounds. 2017 third, fourth and fifth, Donncha, Gabrial and Dolphin Vista all have place claims once again while Ballard Down is still open to improvement and one for the shortlist @ 14/1.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Ice Age – 1.50 Doncaster – 1pt win @ 12/1
In these early flat season races things often do not work out as the market dictates. Lancelot Du Lac is race fit and coming off the back of a good win at Wolverhampton but Doncaster in March, on soft ground, is a completely different proposition. Respect is held for Teruntum Star and Perfect Pasture who finished last season well but Ice Age looks too big a price @ 12/1. He was progressive in the last year, blew the cobwebs away at Lingfield in February and will be fit for this, a race that Eve Johnson-Houghton won in 2012 with the Cheka.
Dawson City – 2.05 Newbury – 1pt win @ 8/1
With rain predicted, this could well turn into a war of attrition which would suit Dawson City down to the ground. The improving pair of Wotzizname and Thomas Patrick are respected but they are no good things and with Amore Alato having not been seen for over a year, the 8/1 about Dawson City, who will stay, is worth a bet.