• Gosden 7lb claiming apprentice Benoit de la Sayette rides Haqeeqy
  • Quote: ‘I’ve seen Benoit ride and he rides very well. John has looked after him and he wouldn’t be putting him on Haqeeqy in a big race like the Lincoln, if he didn’t think he could do the job’ – Richard Hills

By Andrew Atkinson

The Unibet Lincoln Handicap (3.10) at Doncaster on Saturday is one of the early season Flat highlights open to horses aged four years or older.

Johan (9st 10lbs) heads the weights on Town Moor, with a maximum runners field of 22 going to post. Charlie Appleby trained Eastern World is the 3-1 ante-post favourite, following his victory at Meydan in February. Haqeeqy, Brentford Hope, King Ottokar (10-1) and River Nymph (8-1) from 16-1 amongst leading betting circles fancies.

River Nymph and King Ottokar are tipped each-way by fromthehorsesmouth.info.

Adam Kirby rides Clive Cox trained River Nymph (7-1) from 16s in Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.
Adam Kirby rides Clive Cox trained River Nymph (7-1) from 16s in Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

One of the star attractions at the start of the Flat season, the Lincoln is run over 1 mile with experienced handicappers head-to-head with progressive milers, the winners often competing in Group races later in the season, including at Royal Ascot.

Noted runners include Eastern World ridden by James Doyle and trained by Charlie Appleby and Haqeeqy, ridden by Benoit De La Sayette and trained by John Gosden at 3-1.

Brentford Hope ridden by Jamie Spencer and trained by Richard Hughes is 6-1, King Ottokar ridden by Ben Curtis and trained by Charlie Fellowes is 8-1. River Nymph ridden by Adam Kirby and trained by Clive Cox (7-1) and Danyah ridden by Kieran Shoemark and trained Owen Burrows, 10-1.

Roger Varian trained Ascension, Brunch ridden by Callum Rodriguez and trained by Michael Dods, Grove Ferry ridden by William Carver and trained by Andrew Balding; Born To Be Alive ridden by Clifford Lee and trained by K. Burke, 16-1.

The Flat curtain-raiser the Lincoln Handicap was first run in 1853, switching to Doncaster in 1965 following Lincoln track’s closure in 1964.

Trainer William Haggas saddled Penitent (2010) and Addeybb (2018) to Lincoln success, with Charlie Appleby trained Auxerre 5/2 favourite under James Doyle/ Godolphin winning the prestigious race in 2019.

Lincoln Handicap Recent Winners: 2020 no race due to Covid. 2019: AUXERRE (5/2 fav). 2018: ADDEYBB (5/1). 2017: BRAVERY (20/1). 2016: SECRET BRIEF (12/1). 2015: GABRIAL (12/1). 2014: OCEAN TEMPEST (33/1). 2013: LEVITATE (20/1). 2012: BRAE HILL (25/1). 2011: SWEET LIGHTNING (16/1). 2010: PENITENT (3/1 fav).

Four different stables have won nine of the last 17 Lincoln Handicap’s: William Haggas (3), John Quinn (2), Mark Tompkins (now retired) (2) and Richard Fahey (2).

John Gosden has 7lb claiming apprentice Benoit de la Sayette riding Haqeeqy, backed as a leading contender from 8-1.

Dane O’Neill is retained to ride for owner Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum, unable to return from Bahrain in time to take the ride, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ex-pony rider in France, De la Sayette, 18, who rode his first winner on December 28 at Newcastle, has since booted home another eight winners.

Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Shadwell, said: “Dane O’Neill was supposed to come over to ride Haqeeqy as he won on him twice last year but he’s stuck in Bahrain at the moment in isolation.

“Our number one rider Jim Crowley is riding at Meydan and Rab Havlin will be at Kempton – so we had to look elsewhere.

“The horse is a nice ride for an apprentice and has been working nicely on Waterhall. I’ve seen Benoit ride through the winter and rode work with him last year and he rides very well.

“John has looked after him well and he wouldn’t be putting him on Haqeeqy in a big race like the Lincoln, if he didn’t think he could do the job.”

Only two apprentices have won the Lincoln during the past 25 years, O’Neill up on Stone Ridge in 1996 when claiming 5lbs and Darren Egan, up on Levitate in 2013, claiming 3lbs.

DONCASTER fromthehorsesmouth.info selections: 1.25 Wonderful World (ew). 2.00 Montatham (ew). 2.35 Acquitted (ew). 3.10 River Nymph (ew). 3.45 Mr Lupton (ew); Summerghand (ew). 4.20 Khaiz (ew). 4.55 Selecto (ew). 5.25 Mr Coco Bean (ew).

Main image Caption:John Gosden turns to app rentice Benoit de la Sayette to ride Haqeeqy.