Paul Hanagan admits it was "a tough decision" choosing Eshtibaak over Lahaag as his mount in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday.
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As first jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum he had the pick of the two John Gosden-trained runners.
The two-times champion jockey has yet to win the first big race of the new Flat season, although his former boss, trainer Richard Fahey struck with Brae Hill 12 months ago.
"It was a tough decision between him and Lahaag. There wasn't a lot in it. The only thing that swung it was I thought a lot of Eshtibaak last year," Hanagan told At The Races.
"He was very unlucky twice. At Kempton I got knocked over at the start. Next time at Royal Ascot I didn't get much of a run, so that kind of swung it.
"They say he's done very well and he looks well. I won on him at Lingfield then we just had no luck at all after that.
"You have to make a decision and hopefully one of them wins."
Gosden, who sent out Expresso Star to lift this prize in 2009, feels both horses deserve to take their chance.
"If you have a horse in the 90s it's a nice place to start them out," the Newmarket handler said.
"It's never a big weight spread now. With 22 you are in a fairly tight handicap.
"The track and the trip will suit both of them, they have been working nicely and they are drawn either side of the track.
"Eshtibaak in a sense is probably a mile and a quarter horse, as was Expresso Star, and on soft ground you want to see the trip out. The mile at Doncaster demands getting."
Gladys' Gal just made the cut to give her the opportunity to return to action for the first time since she won on this track in July 2011.
Her trainer Roger Varian is delighted to get the five-year-old back on the course.
"Gladys' Gal has been working well this spring. I think she will stay a mile and that soft ground shouldn't pose a problem," the Newmarket trainer told www.varianstable.com.
"Stall 11 gives us options of going either side so I am happy with the draw,
"The slight concern is that she hasn't run for so long and it is a tough ask for a horse who has only had three races to compete against hardened handicappers in a race like the Lincoln."
Solar Deity has a 5lb penalty for a recent win at Wolverhampton but trainer Marco Botti is worried the ground might be too testing.
"He has done well from three to four. We have always liked him and he has shown plenty of ability, but for one reason or another he had a niggling problem as a three-year-old and lost his form in the summer," the Newmarket handler said.
"After a good break he came back and he won a handicap at Wolverhampton when he was rated 84 and he hasn't stopped progressing.
"The ground would be a worry."
Chapter Seven was bought of the Richard Fahey stable for 95,000 guineas in the autumn and has a victory over Lahaag to his credit.
His new trainer Stuart Williams reports the four-year-old in fine shape for a return to turf action.
"The obvious place to start him is the Lincoln," said the Newmarket handler.
"We were just in front of John Gosden's horse (Lahaag) at York when they were first and second and that horse has been favourite for quite a while so I'd be hopeful of a good run from him.
"He won't mind the ground and he's going there in real good form."
Trainer Charlie Hills has high hopes for Captain Bertie, who was an unlucky fourth in the Spring Mile 12 months ago. He made amends when landing the Spring Cup at Newbury on his next start and has been trained to the minute for this race.
"He's a bit backwards in his coat but he's working fantastically well," said the Lambourn trainer.
"I couldn't be happier with him, he's a spring horse and he's proven in this going."
George Baker feels the ground is likely to be against Belgian Bill, who failed to make an impact in two races at Meydan in January.
"The ground is not ideal. Things didn't work out for him in Dubai, but he ran better there than his finishing positions would imply," said the Manton trainer.
"He's in very good form at home and one day one of these big races is going to fall into his lap.
"I would prefer the race to be run on good to soft, rather than proper soft ground."