David Ord has a horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Unibet Lincoln and he's taking on hot favourite Auxerre.
ANOTHER BATT: Paid his way in Meydan this winter and is a very tough and capable performer. However, he has top weight to contend with here and has crept seven pounds above his last winning mark. Will run his race but looks vulnerable all the same.
SAFE VOYAGE: Two from three last season but that defeat came when upped to red-hot handicap company in the Balmoral and the suspicion is the handicapper has his measure now.
MASHAM STAR: A remarkable horse who thrives on racing and is a credit to his connections but he now races from a career-high mark and there wasn’t much evidence in the Wolverhampton trial that he was about to defy it.
AQUARIUM: Returned from his own stint in Dubai to stay on into fifth in the Wolverhampton race won by Zwayyan. Not for the first time he was undone by a slow start and is another with very little in hand of the assessor.
ZWAYYAN: Must be on the shortlist after his Wolverhampton win, which represented a career-best effort. He’s now two-from-two on the all-weather but is equally effective on turf and is the sort to go well under Silvestre De Sousa.
AUXERRE: Rattled off a hat-trick last season and easy to see why he’s at the head of the market given his unexposed profile and powerful connections. There are three reasons to take him on if you're that way inclined though, in that he’s unproven in this big-field scenario, his current price, and he shapes as though he could be suited by further this season.
SALTONSTALL: Fascinating runner for the excellent Adrian McGuinness having been bought out of Mick Halford’s yard for 44,000 euros. He’s only two pounds higher than when winning a premier handicap at the Curragh in May. Finished down the field in the Royal Hunt Cup on previous British start but shaped better than his finishing position suggests, paying the price for quickly making up his ground two out, and is a player here.
SOUTH SEAS: Has plenty of ability and fascinating recruit for the Phil Kirby team. He didn’t enjoy much luck in handicaps last season but a mark of 100 strikes as being feasible for his shrewd new connections and there have been plenty of encouraging noises of late.
SILVER QUARTZ: Not at his best when 11th (beaten less than five lengths) in that much-discussed Wolverhampton trial last time but even his peak efforts suggest this might be beyond him from a mark of 100.
WAARIF: Thrived on a busy campaign last season but came up short upped in grade in the Cambridgeshire and Balmoral and will need to resume on an upward curve to take this.
CHIEFOFCHIEFS: Faced a couple of stiff tasks in against Wissahickon the last twice but is now ten pounds above his last winning mark and it’s easier to make cases for others.
BREDEN: We’re nearly finished with the Wolverhampton trial but…this fellow was at his best in finishing second there and has improved through his all-weather campaign this winter. Needs to take his turf form forward here now, though.
CHATEZ: Very lighty raced – but plenty of talent when he is right. Last seen struggling in a valuable handicap hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas and needs to be razor sharp to cope with this test. The percentage call has to be to look elsewhere.
RIPP ORF: Won four times last season and is carving out quite a record – and reputation – on the straight course at Ascot. Does operate away from the Berkshire track though and this big field, strong pace scenario really plays to his strengths. Not one to dismiss.
KYNREN: Went close to landing a decent prize four times last season, notably when touched off by Poets Voice at the York Ebor Festival. Signed off for the campaign with good efforts in the Cambridgeshire and Balmoral and is a pound lower than when fifth to Sharja Bridge in the latter. Only a pound above his York mark too and with his yard starting to tick over again, and the nature of the race playing to his strengths, a huge run is on the cards.
WAHASH: Never a factor in the Wolverhampton trial (apologies) from a wide draw and very patchy overall record. Represents a top team but difficult to garner much enthusiasm for his chance other than that.
RAYDIANCE: First time out might be the time to catch him, it certainly was in 2018, but even his best leaves him with something to find in this company.
HUMBERT: Fascinating recruit for the David O’Meara team and the sort they excel with. Second in the Spring Mile here last season so clearly the nature of this race and track hold no terrors and handicapped to run a big one. The only worry is the forecast sunshine – he wouldn’t want it to dry out too much.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Third in the Wolverhampton trial (nearly there) and sort to run well here for all he’s as high as he’d want to be in the handicap (seven pounds above the mark he won from at York in July).
VENTURA KNIGHT: Seventh in the Wolverhampton trial (we are there) and as likeable as he is, it’s hard to see him finding the necessary improvement to land this.
GREAT PROSPECTOR: Not easy to predict last season and never quite fulfilled his two-year-old promise but handicapper starting to relent and he is still relatively unexposed in races such as this.
BERINGER: Has the assistance of Andrea Atzeni and well worth a try in strongly-run mile contest such as this. He shapes as though it will suit but a handicap mark of 96 will make life difficult.
The percentage call has to be to take on Auxerre for all his undoubted potential to be significantly better than his current mark. Strong cases can be made for Saltonstall, Ripp Orf and Humbert but the vote goes to KYNREN.
He’s long threatened to pick up a valuable pot such as this and starts the campaign on a handy mark and with his stable showing signs of bursting into life.
- Ripp Orf