Easterby camp aim high for 'nice horse' Off Art
William Hill Lincoln (Heritage Handicap) | 1m, 4yo+ | C4/RUK
THE rain has arrived at just the right time for Levitate, who will attempt to become only the third dual winner of the Lincoln after Ob (1906, 1907) and Babur (1957, 1958) and the first in 56 years at Doncaster.
His short-head victory last March and a win at the same course in November bookended a rewarding year for the John Quinn-trained runner, who is better equipped than many to handle conditions changed to soft after 18mm of rain.
Five of Levitate's six wins have come on ground described as good to soft or soft, but he has risen to a career-high mark of 106, a burden partially reduced by the 7lb claim of apprentice Joe Doyle.
The withdrawal of ante-post favourite Captain Cat because of the change in conditions has left Tullius and Off Art at the head of the market.
Tullius raced only three times last year, but won Group 3 and Listed prizes on soft ground in 2012, while the lightly raced Off Art has suffered defeat only once and was unbeaten in three starts last season.
All in the draw
Once a significant factor in the Flat season curtain-raiser, the draw has had less of an impact since the track reopened following work at the course in 2008, with winners emerging from stalls one to 16. Tullius is set to break from stall 22 but non-runners may put him at less of a statistical disadvantage.
Richard Fahey has a notable recent record in the race. As well as winning the prize with Brae Hill two years ago, he produced the third and fourth home last year and a runner-up in the 2010 and 2011 Lincoln runnings - good omens for Gabrial's Kaka and Hi There.
Fortune chasing record
Jimmy Fortune, who rides Burano, needs one more victory to join Charlie Maidment as the most successful rider in the race with four wins.
What they say
Sam Hoskins, racing manager to Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, owner of Tullius
Andrew [Balding, trainer] says he is in great shape and goes into the race with a decent chance. Given luck in running, he should go close.
John Quinn, trainer of Levitate
He's gone up in the weights since last year, but he improved as the year went on. Taking 7lb off his back through Joe Doyle will help. He loves this course and the rain has helped his chance. He was drawn three last year, which isn't great, but he should be fine as long as he gets somewhere near the pace.
Stuart Williams, trainer of Mezzotint
He did well last year for Marco Botti and is in here off quite a high mark now. I'm trying something different by taking him up to a mile, but his draw [stall 1] on the far side is not ideal.
Richard Fahey, trainer of Hi There and Gabrial's Kaka
Gabrial's Kaka was a big, backward horse last year and was always going to be a better horse this year. He's got to go and prove it now. He'll love the ground and the big field won't bother him. We're happy with him but its a tough race to win. The ground will help Hi There, but I think he'll struggle off a mark of 98.
David O'Meara, trainer of Sweet Lightning and Robert The Painter
Both of have been in Dubai and have come back fine. Sweet Lightning is a two-time Lincoln winner [Lincoln and Irish Lincoln] but he's not getting younger. He's in good form and has a good draw in stall 18. Robert The Painter was in great form last year and we're hoping he carries it on.
Charlie Hills, trainer of One Word More
He runs well fresh. He won his first start last year and his form doesn't look too bad. He has run some good races at this course as well but it looks a tough race. I think the ground should be beautiful and I don't think it will be an issue for him.
David Simcock, trainer of Whispering Warrior
He's never run on soft ground. We've always avoided it in the past but he'll be taking his chance. We've aimed him at this race and he will get a break afterwards.
Brian Ellison, trainer of Balty Boys
He wants fast ground and the going has basically gone against him. He'll probably still run just to get him going.
George Baker, trainer of Jack's Revenge
It's a boring cliche but he deserves to win a big one. I'm happy with the draw, the ground and where we've got the horse.
Tim Easterby, trainer of Off Art
We're aiming for another unbeaten season. He's in good form and has been working well. I can't do any more. He goes like a nice horse, but I don't know how he'll go on the ground. He's out of an Efisio mare and Dutch Art's don't seem to have a preference. I can't see a problem.
Stratford good to soft over hurdles, soft on the chase course
Uttoxeter good to soft, soft in places on the chase course
Navan soft to heavy over hurdles, heavy on chase course
Today's key pointer
Oisin Murphy is 4-8 at Doncaster and rides Tullius (3.50), who has figures of 1110 after a 100-day break and returns from 129 days off
Pointer courtesy of Raceform Interactive