Home » Migration out to defend Lincoln Handicap crown: Full runner guide

Migration out to defend Lincoln Handicap crown: Full runner guide

Migration seeks to become just the third retainer of the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday. Jamie Lynch assesses the opposition, and gives his best bet for the South Yorkshire showpiece.

A William Hill Lincoln, live on Sky Sports Racing at 3.35pm on Saturday, that tails off more than it normally does. Horses with marks in the 80s able to get in for once – almost unheard of – but the meaty part of the race is every bit as fat and familiar as always, including the last two winners, a sprinkling of up-and-coming four-year-olds, and a two-pronged attack from Ireland. Let’s look at the field.


Paddy Bradley / D Menuisier

An eight-year-old Lincoln winner is a very exclusive club, comprising just four, and dual winners are rarer still, but much is the same as when last year when he defied top-weight, crucially the ground, also coming from the next-door draw, though he’s still 4lb higher. Has never before had his tongue tied.


S De Sousa / J Channon

Freshness is the fundamental formula for Johan, successful first time out in this race in 2022 and the Golden Mile last year, the latter on soft ground. In theory, therefore, everything is perfect for him, but in practice this mark proved beyond him in the Lincoln 12 months ago, and he’s virtually a veteran now, aged seven.

Liberty Lane

C Lee / K R Burke

A profiler’s dream, as for five years in a row (2016 to 2021) the Lincoln was won by a lightly-raced four-year-old who carried between 9-01 and 9-05, and, what’s more, Liberty Lane ticked the course-and-distance box at the St Leger Festival. The only downside at all with him is his propensity to pull hard, maybe magnified first time out, though he has been gelded over the winter which could help him grow up and calm down. If there’s a horse to take the race apart then it’s him.

Thunder Ball

Thunder Ball is all set for the Lincoln

Alec Voikhansky / P&O Cole

On the surface he sits at the same sweet-spot trends table as Liberty Lane, but he’s had more than twice that one’s racing, and he resumes off a three-figure mark for the first time, while claiming riders are nothing new to him. On the plus side he has run very well in big fields at big odds, fourth in the Britannia at 66/1 and seventh in the 34-runner Cambridgeshire at 80/1.

The Gatekeeper

J Fanning / C Johnston

An old-school Johnson handicapper in that the more he runs the better he gets, signing off last season with an all-the-way win in the Balmoral at 25/1, on testing ground. The same strategy will be harder to pull off first time back from a career-high mark, and he was only fifth in last year’s Spring Mile, with the benefit of a run.


David Probert / AM Balding

Expresses herself best against her own sex, a listed winner at Carlisle last summer as well as finishing third in the Group Three Sceptre, but fifth in the Balmoral (off this mark) was arguably her greatest achievement. Testing conditions are no problem to her, and she’s one of the livelier longshots.


Jason Hart / R Spencer

Sixth, 15th and ninth in previous Lincolns tells a tale of where his early-season priorities lie, namely Chester’s Boodles May Festival.

Blues Emperor

B M Coen / J P Murtagh

Big-field mile handicaps are his specialist subject, bagging two last summer – including a defeat of Chazzesmee – before beating all bar one in the Irish Cambridgeshire. The things which knock off some of the gloss are his record on testing ground and the needy performances by the stable’s reappears at the Curragh last Monday.


J M Sheridan / J A Stack

The five day turnaround is far more of a worry than the 5lb penalty for winning the Irish equivalent at the Curragh last Monday, especially for a horse who has benefited so much from having his races spaced out: 50 days is the shortest break he’s ever had in his life but there’s nothing in the field coming in as hot as he is.


Navagio is 'up against it' for the Lincoln
Navagio is ‘up against it’ for the Lincoln

R Kingscote / James Horton

First start since transfer from Ireland, while it’s no routine absence, not seen since July, and he looks up against it from a mark 10lb higher than when beaten in his last handicap.


Ryan Sexton / Miss J A Camacho

Successful raid in the Irish version last year, and a straight mile on testing ground is right up his street, but the handicapper took charge in the second half of the season, and even Julie Camacho will do well to go where William Haggas failed from this sort of mark.

Dutch Decoy

Connor Beasley / C Johnston

Probably too old and too exposed to win a Lincoln, though he wasn’t beaten at all far into sixth in the Cambridgeshire the last time we saw him. Finished only mid-field in the Spring Mile on his comeback in 2023.

Farhh To Shy

Benoit D L Sayette / G G Margarson

She stays a mile and acts on gruelling ground, but the combination of the two always stretches her, as she’s more of a glider than a grinder: she’s a good bet to be the last off the bridle even in a handicap as strong as this one.

Mr Professor

David Egan / D J S Ffrench Davis

Usually races over further, but that’s probably no bad thing under these conditions, and he was a listed winner on heavy in his early days. Resurgent for a while last autumn and at least has more going for him than the others in his price bracket.


S A Gray / K A Ryan

Gentle renovation got him a win at Newcastle 10 days ago but the handicapper has reassessed him at 88 for that, and he’s off 92 here with his penalty, plus the ground is a big unknown for him.


S D Bowen / Ian Williams

Had a productive time in Bahrain but picked up a penalty for this, a world away for conditions and competition.


Aidan Keeley / George Baker

An ‘away’ fixture for him because all four of his career wins have come on the All-Weather, plus the penalty leaves him 2lb wrong at the weights.

One Night Thunder

One Night Thunder is set to go to post
One Night Thunder is set to go to post

Laura Coughlan / G Tutty

No momentum at any stage of his light career, a case of one step forward and two back, exactly that in his pair of runs for this stable at the end of last year having left Richard Hannon.

Spirit Genie

K T O’Neill / J Candish

Tried at listed level in his time with Jessica Harrington but soon resorted to a seller in Britain, though it bolstered his confidence as he was then second to Dashing Roger in a handicap at Newmarket. That form gives him a squeak, though one with his rating would normally find himself in the Spring Mile, and he’s liable to be outclassed by a handful in here.

Alpha Crucis

Anna Gibson / G L Moore

The winning formula with him seems to be freshness and testing ground, and both are in play here, but the simple fact that he’s 2lb out of the handicap illustrates that he has a mountain to climb at this level.

Jamie Lynch’s Verdict:

This is one of those handicaps where the value looks to be at the top of the market, a compelling case for saying the favourites ought to be shorter still, LIBERTY LANE standing out like the proverbial sore thumb with the perfect profile for the Lincoln-based on the strongest recent trends, and gelding him since last year could well be the game-changer for him.