Brendan Duke: Unexposed Qaysar can hit the target in Saturday’s Lincoln

There's an international feel as the Flat season clicks into gear this weekend and Brendan Duke won't be left in the stalls...


Things have gone a bit flat. For civilians, that would be a cause for disappointment. For the racing fan, a source of joy. Sunday saw me head to Naas for the start of the Flat turf season. There was a good attendance, and some decent racing. My only mistake was underestimating the capricious nature of March weather. With the sun splitting the stones in Dublin, I left the hat and gloves combo behind. The rays didn’t stretch to Kildare though. I was left exposed to the fierce nippy conditions. Still, with a song in my heart to warm me, I toughed it out.

The flat theme continues this week. The turf season starts in Doncaster on Saturday. I’ve had a stab at the Lincoln. Never easy, but that’s why I get paid the big bucks. I’ll also celebrate the international dimension by having a look at World Cup night in Meydan. Also, despite my best efforts, no anecdotes happened to me this week. These 800 words won’t write themselves though. I will also have a look at some ante-post Classic action.

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With no rain forecast, Saturday’s Lincoln Handicap should be run on good ground. Qaysar (16/1) was the one that interested me at the prices. Un Unfortunately, Qaysar is now a non runner for Saturday. He looked a horse going places in a hurry, early last season. The wheels came off, when he was stuffed, in a traditionally hot three-year-old handicap at Haydock. He fared no better when bringing up the rear in the Britannia at Royal Ascot. Connections drew stumps for the season after that. He returns off a mark of 97. That looks more that fair, based on his early season exploits.

Gelded in the off season, and having run just six times in his career, the 16/1 about him getting his groove back appeals. The only snag, is that he has two other entries on the card. I suspect he will run in the Lincoln, but given my uncanny record of tipping up non runners ante post, it may be best to wait until after declaration time on Thursday. Anything around 12/1 would look fair.

The supporting card features the Cammidge Trophy (1.50 pm). This looks a hot renewal. One that might have been underestimated in the market is Mokarris. This five year old’s career has been blighted by injury. He was a very smart juvenile. Since then, he’s been restricted to just two runs. His seasonal comeback, behind Kachy, was promising. That was his first run since a wind op. Chasing Kachy around Lingfield would leave any horse breathless.


The second that day, Gorgeous Noora, has given the form a boost since. I expect a deal of improvement from Mokarris on Saturday. Granted, he will need it. At 20/1 he looks a reasonable e/w play to find enough. The snag list grows though. Simon Crisford, trainer of Mokarris, has two entries in this race. Both horses are also entered in a handicap at Kempton on the same day. Jockey bookings suggest Mokarris will go to Doncaster. I’m probably gone a bit gun shy, but will wait until declaration time before betting.

If I have to take a slightly shorter price, so be it.

Off to the desert where Paddy’s non runner no bet. The Dubai World Cup probably isn’t a vintage renewal. The third and fourth from the Breeders Cup Classic (BCC) show up mind. With the second from the mega bucks Pegasus World Cup, also on parade, it looks a competitive, high-class race. My fancy is Yoshida. This horse only started running on the dirt late last year. He won the Woodward Stakes on his first try, before a running on fourth in the BCC. His trainer Bill Mott know what it takes to win this race. The horse is relatively lightly raced, and it’s reasonable to think the BCC run might have made a man of him. If he can lie a bit closer early, I expect him to go very close to winning. The 7/1 appeals each way.

Earlier on the card, Japanese sensation Almond Eye struts her stuff in the Dubai Turf. She looks the real deal, and connections are talking about an international campaign, which sets her on a collision course with Enable and Sea Of Class. It’s a bold, sporting strategy, which should have us all salivating. That’s not to say she will have it all her own way on Saturday. This trip is probably short of her optimum, and in Dream Castle she meets an in form, improving rival. Dream Castle seems to have improved for being gelded. It could also be the step up in trip. Anyway, he looks sure to run well from an inside draw. At 7/2 we can back him e/w. If Almond Eye doesn’t run up to scratch, he’s by far the most likely horse to pick up the pieces. If she does, then we most likely get a healthy portion of our money back bu Dream Castle hitting the places.


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Finally, a long shot with a stab at the Derby. Too Darn Hot is clear favourite. I’ve a strong hunch, whatever happens in the 2000 Guineas, that he won’t turn up at Epsom. The one I like is Line Of Duty (LOD). He reminds me quite a bit of Masar. Both are trained by Charlie Appleby. Both had five runs as two year olds. LOD actually managed to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf.

He has a stamina laden pedigree. He’s by Galileo, and while high class dam Jacqueline Quest never ran over further than a mile, her family tends towards stayers. I can see LOD starting off in the Craven, followed by the Guineas. That will see him head to Epsom off the back of seven runs. That experience could prove invaluable. Don’t worry that he’s not entered at the moment. That will be remedied at the second entry stage in April. At 25/1 he looks worth a bet.

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What do you think?