AND all of a sudden, the draw is a thing again. High in the Lincoln – also a thing again – probably, unless the ground is very testing, which it probably will be today.

Migration was drawn 12 last year, on heavy ground, and he came up the stands’ rail to get the better of Awaal, who had emerged from stall 17 and who also raced towards the stands’ side. But Baradar finished third last year from stall four and racing towards the far side, having travelled like the most likely winner from a long way out.

He just didn’t get home, we know that now. He struggles for stamina over a testing mile. And sure enough, he didn’t race over a mile again last season, he won the International Handicap at Ascot over seven furlongs and he won another handicap at Doncaster over six and a half, and he goes in the Cammidge Trophy today over six.

Digression over, last note on the draw. Seven of the last eight Lincoln winners raced from stall 10 or higher, but five of the last nine raced from stall 12 or lower.

Also, Johan won the Lincoln from stall four in 2022 on good to soft ground, in a year in which six of the first seven home in the 22-runner race raced from single-figure draws. A lowish draw today shouldn’t be a negative.

It is a bold move by Fozzy Stack to send Chazzesmee over in a daring bid to complete a Lincoln double, just five days after he won the Irish Lincoln at the Curragh. It would be some feat, and the trainer has previous in that regard in big British handicaps.

He sent Son Of Rest over to Ayr to dead-heat for first place in the Ayr Gold Cup in 2018, just six days after the Pivotal colt had gone down by just a half a length in the Group 1 Flying Five at the Curragh.


Chazzesmee has to shoulder a 5lb penalty for his Irish Lincoln win on Monday, but it is difficult to argue that he didn’t win with at least 5lb in hand, and it is probable that he is still well-in even off his new mark of 97. He is six, but he is a really lightly-raced six-year-old, he has run just 10 times in his life, and he remains on an upward trajectory.

A five-day turnaround is unprecedented, the shortest break that he has had between races before now is 50 days, but he still has a big chance. The market is on to him though, he is favourite in most lists.

Migration has to be on your shortlist. He hasn’t won since he won the Lincoln last year, but he has raced just three times in the interim. He is back down to a mark of 111, just 4lb higher than the mark off which he won the race last year.

He is eight now, and no eight-year-old has won the Lincoln since Hunters Of Brora won it in 1998, but no horse aged older than six had won it since Hunters Of Brora before Migration won it last year as a seven-year-old, and he won last year with at least a little in hand.

Awaal is back for more, second last year and, like Migration, in a first-time tongue-tie today, and back down to a mark of 102, last year’s mark. And the 2022 winner Johan is up to a mark of 106, 4lb higher than the mark off which he won the race, but he won the Golden Mile at Goodwood last summer off a mark of 103, beating subsequent Balmoral Handicap winner The Gatekeeper into second place. He is only 3lb higher today.

That said, the value of today’s race may rest with Thunder Ball. Winner of a novice stakes at Newbury in the early part of last season, the Coles’ horse progressed nicely through the year.

He contested some of the good handicaps, he was first past the post against The (aforementioned) Gatekeeper in a good handicap on soft ground at Goodwood at the end of August, demoted to second by the stewards afterwards, and he wasn’t beaten far in the Cambridgeshire. He led the group of five who raced down the centre of the track from early at Newmarket, and he kept on well after he was passed. In the end, he only finished seventh, but he was only beaten a total of less than three lengths.

He stepped forward from that on his final run last season, when he stayed on well to win a one-mile handicap at Goodwood on soft ground.

He was well on top at the end, he was strong all the way to the line, and the third horse Grey’s Monument came out and won a listed race at Kempton next time.

He was raised by 6lb by the handicapper for that run but, a four-year-old who continues to improve, he could be progressive enough to cope with that type of hike. We know that four-year-olds do well in the Lincoln, they have won five of the last seven renewals, and Alec Voikhansky is one for one on Thunder Ball.


Heltenham is a worthy favourite for the BetVictor Handicap Chase at Newbury. He was an impressive winner of the Greatwood Gold Cup over today’s course and distance last time and, winner of this race last year, he continues to progress.

But he is short today, he is 6lb higher than he was last time and he is 13lh higher than he was last year, and the ground is going to be much better today than it was last time or last year. He does have form on good to soft ground, but his best runs have been on soft or heavy ground, and it appears as if he is priced up on his soft-ground form.

Solo could be the value against him. Paul Nicholls’ horse hasn’t run since he finished second in a three-runner graduation chase at Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle meeting just before Christmas.

The winner of that race, Excello, hasn’t enhanced that form since, but the third horse Straw Fan Jack ran a massive race in the Plate at Cheltenham last week.

More than that though, winner of the Grade 2 Pendil Chase at Kempton as a novice just over a year ago, and second to Elixir De Nutz in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on his debut this season, Solo goes well on good and good to soft ground, and it is probable that his trainer has had this race in mind for him for a little while.

He goes well fresh, and this is a race that Paul Nicholls tends to target, he has won it three times in the last eight years.


Solo - 1 point win, 2.40 Newbury, 6/1 (generally)

Thunder Ball, 1 point each-way, 3.35 Doncaster, 14/1 (generally)