Lincoln Handicap Betting

Beginning in 1858~59, this mile-long handicap was originally run at Lincoln racecourse as the Lincolnshire Handicap. It has been held in March each year ever since, replacing a discontinued two-mile summer fixture that had existed there since 1849 and the mile-and-a-half Lincoln Spring Handicap that began in 1853. When the Carholme racecourse at Lincoln closed in 1965, the event shortened its name to the Lincoln Handicap and moved to Doncaster in South Yorkshire, its present home, where the race could be run on a straight mile.

Of course, Doncaster Racecourse is best known as the venue where the St. Leger has been run since 1776, making it the oldest of the five British Classic horse races. But the Lincoln Handicap also occupies an important place on the English Flat Racing calendar, being the first major handicap of the season. As such, the race always draws a sizeable field. In fact, in 1948 there were 58 runners—a record among races run under Jockey Club rules.

An Historic Racing Event

Many memorable finishes have been witnessed at the Lincoln Handicap over the years, which is now limited to four-year-olds and upwards. One of the most exciting moments came in 1902 when a three-year-old filly named Sceptre debuted in a close loss, caught out at the very last stride by St. Maclou. Sceptre went on to become the only horse ever to win four of the five English Classics outright.

In its long history, the Lincoln Handicap has had only two double winners: Ob in 1906~1907, followed half a century later by Babur in 1957~1958. Among jockeys, Charlie Maidment claimed the most victories—four—aboard Indigestion (1868), Royal Rake (1870), Guy Dayrell (1872), and Vestminster (1873). Similarly, trainer Jack Robinson brought home four winners: Clorane (1896), winkfield’s Pride (1897), Prince Barcaldine (1898), and Cinderello (1910).

In more recent history, Paul Cole trained three Lincoln Handicap victors: Kuala Lipis (1997), John Fereley (2000), and Nimello (2001). Rider Jimmy Fortune guided the latter two horses to the finish line and then made it a hat-trick by taking Expresso Star to a first place conclusion in 2009. Oddly missing from the list of Lincoln luminaries is jockey Lester Piggott, who raced here but never managed to outrun the field.

Racing at Doncaster

The racecourse at Doncaster is among seven in Britain operated by Arena Leisure, and it hosts both flat racing and jumps. It has been home to the November Handicap since 1963, making it the location of both the first and last big handicaps of the racing year. Since 1971, the Lincoln Handicap has been conducted on the first Saturday of Britain’s turf flat racing season, just one or two weeks ahead of the Grand National. As a result, bookmakers often pair the two races to form a market known as the “Spring Double,” with astronomical opportunities for handicappers.

Several long-priced entries have made the Lincoln Handicap a happy payday over the years, notably Bronze Hill (1973) at 50-1 and then Cuvee Charlie (1988), Evichstar (1990), Roving Minstrel (1995), Stone Ridge (1996), and Zucchero (2002)—all at odds of 33/1. The shortest odds of late were on the 2010 winner, Penitent, at 3/1.

For many years, the Lincoln Handicap was sponsored by william hill. The bookmaker took an interval away from the race 1997 and then returned in 2006 for a new round of association, giving the event its official name: the william hill Lincoln. As of 2010, the purse for the handicap has been raised to £125,000, with more than £77,000 going to the winner.

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