THIS weekend provides a test of mental aptitude for a cross-code racing fan. One minute you’re all encompassed in the trials and tribulations of Cheltenham, trying to decipher the best handicapped horse in the Martin Pipe, then suddlenly you’re trying to take on the Lincoln.
And it’s not just Doncaster, it’s the Curragh, it’s the Dubai World Cup and it’s Naas tomorrow. The flat is back alright.
The SBK Lincoln (3.35) has the same feel to it as always with the annual quest to identify that group horse masquerading as a handicapper evident as ever. The one-mile contest can produce a star, with most recent example of Addeybb in 2018.
There are three four-year-olds who potentially could be well ahead of their marks today and they dominate the market accordingly - William Haggas’s Mujtaba, Charlie Appleby’s Modern News and the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Saleymm. The last mentioned is most notable from an Irish perspective because he’ll be ridden by Kildare native Ross Coakley, who has a real chance today to make a statement.
Coakley moved over to Britain at the beginning of last year but failed to really gain solid momentum with just 12 winners, but he’s already rode 17 winners this year, after an excellent winter on the all-weather, and in all, he has a very healthy 31% strike rate.
More significantly, he has developed a strong association with Simon and Ed Crisford, riding six winners from 11 runs for that Newmarket duo, and he has been rewarded with a big opportunity today on Saleymm.
“We’ve struck up a good association over the winter,” Coakley told The Irish Field. “Simon and Ed have a good quality of horse and it’s imperative for a jockey to be getting opportunities on those horses, the ones who could take you to the next level.
“I’m riding out in Simon and Ed’s two mornings a week and they’ve been really good to me, things have been going away nicely. Salyemm is a progressive horse. He has the right type of profile for the Lincoln. The ground should be ideal and a few of the fancied runners are drawn around us, which is always a help.
“These are the type of opportunities you work towards and now that we’ve got it, it’s just a case of enjoying it really. Saleymm could progress through the rankings this season so striking up an association early in the year could bring us to better things ahead.”
It’s a big day for William Haggas as well whose Mujtaba is favourite for the race, while he also has five runners in Meydan for the Dubai World Cup card. The Yorkshire native trained the aforementioned Addeybb to win at Doncaster in 2018 and Mujtaba has been unbeaten for him in three runs so far. Ametist and Irish Admiral also take their chance for Haggas while Mohaafeth and Alenquer are among his most significant chances in Dubai.
JUST like William Haggas, Ado McGuinness is operating on two fronts today with a live chance of further Group 1 glory with A Case Of You in Meydan and no less than seven runners in the Irish Lincoln at the Curragh.
A Case Of You gave McGuinness a magical first Group 1 win in the Prix de l’Abbaye last year and is rated a 10/1 shot for the Al Quoz Sprint (1.35), worth over €1.3 million. The pot for the Paddy Power Irish Lincoln (4.16) pales in comparison at just €100,000 but it has been in these premier handicaps that McGuinness has thrived, paving the way for better quality horses like A Case Of You to come into his Lusk yard.
The north Dublin native won the Irish Lincoln with Victram in 2005 and most recently with Bowerman, who takes his chance again today, in 2020. His overall record in the race reads very well, with those winners also alongside six placed horses from 15 runners.
Speaking to the race sponsors during the week, McGuinness was in confident form looking ahead ot the race.
“Bowerman is a previous winner of the race and seems to be back to his old self. I’m very happy with him. Saltonstall was fourth in the race last year and is a two-time Galway Mile winner. He loves the Curragh and should run a big race.
“Star Harbour is a progressive horse and the dryer the ground the better for him. The forecast looks okay with not much rain. Star Of Cashel has a very light weight. He was fourth in the race last season, although not for me, and he’s in very good form and I’m expecting a big run with the light weight.
“Casanova was fourth in a Group 3 and placed in a listed race. I think he’s progressive and if he runs up to that sort of form, he has a chance. Sirjack Thomas was a two-time premier handicap winner last year and loves a little dig in the ground. He should run a solid race.
“Current Option won in Galway off top weight and a rating of 105. He’s well used to carrying weight and I’ll probably claim off him.”
Indeed McGuinness has claimed off Current Option, by using stable apprentice Cian MacRedmond, who rode a double for the yard at Dundalk on Wednesday. The six-year-old tops topped the betting for the race yesterday evening.