The new Flat season kicks off at Doncaster on Saturday with the Lincoln Handicap as the first day’s highlight.
The days when the start of the Flat was celebrated in the papers with banner headlines of “They’re Off” have long gone. Long gone too is Lincoln’s racecourse, the original home of the start of the Flat. That closed in 1964, since when Doncaster has ushered in the new season. The Lincoln grandstand is still there, as are remains of its paddock. It is easy to trace the old racecourse line.
The Lincoln Handicap no longer carries the importance of years past. It once formed the first leg of the ‘Spring Double’ with the Grand National. Once Christmas was over, all the talk among racing fans was about those two races. Jump racing held far less appeal back then so there was little else to occupy the mind.
Lincoln Handicap boasts long history
Lincoln held its first spring meeting in 1853. The Lincoln Spring Handicap became the ‘Lincolnshire’ five years later. When Waddington’s brought out their board game Totopoly in 1939 (the horse racing version of Monopoly), they used the names of 12 recent Lincoln winners for their horses.
Godolphin have the ante-post favourite for this year’s race in Auxerre. He’s drawn well in stall 17 in a field of 22. The last four Lincoln winners all had double figure draws: 10, 20, 22 and 15.
The Brocklesby Stakes, the first two-year-old race on turf, was first run in 1842. With no form to go on, it’s best to look for trainers who tend to have their two-year-olds fit and ready to fire early. Mick Channon, Richard Fahey, David Evans and Bill Turner all do that and they all have runners in the race – Evans runs four. It’s a real guessing game. However, Channon won it last year with Izzer and may do so again with Birkenhead.
Good luck for the new Flat season. Hopefully the Lincoln will start you off on a winning note.