Bronze Angel remains top-weight for the Betway Lincoln after 93 horses stood their ground at the confirmation stage for the traditional curtain-raiser to the turf season at Doncaster on Saturday.
The Marcus Tregoning-trained six-year-old has won two of the last three runnings of the Cambridgeshire, but would have to put up a sterling performance to land this prestigious handicap under the steadier of 9st 11lb.
Last year’s winner, Ocean Tempest, trained by John Ryan, is on 9st 10lb and could attempt to become first horse since Babur in 1957 and 1958 to land back-to-back victories in the mile feature.
The other past winner hoping to try again is David O’Meara’s Penitent, who was successful in 2010 when trained by William Haggas. The latter has lifted this prize three times and is responsible for ante-post favourite Mange All.
Among other strong fancies still involved are the John Gosden-trained GM Hopkins, Ed Dunlop’s Zarwaan, Gabrial’s Kaka from Richard Fahey’s stable and Marco Botti’s Moohaarib.
Dermot Weld, who sent out Saving Mercy to strike in 1984, has left in Stuccodor. However, the six-year-old also has an entry in the Tote Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh on Sunday.
One significant withdrawal was Mindurownbusiness, who had been available at around 14-1 in the betting.
Connections of the Roger Varian-trained four-year-old have decided to aim him instead at the Mile Championship on All-Weather Championships Finals day at Lingfield.
“We thought long and hard about whether to leave Mindurownbusiness in the Lincoln but have decided against it,” the Newmarket handler told www.varianstable.com.
“It was obviously an attractive option due to him being ‘well-in’ but we have decided to stick to the conditions we know he excels at.
“He is an improver on the all-weather, winning over course and distance and at Wolverhampton. It is a valuable prize with a limited field and although we have a few pounds to find on official ratings, he is on the up and goes there with a good chance.”
A maximum field of 22 is allowed in the Lincoln with those who miss the cut having a chance to run in the consolation race, the Betway Spring Mile, on the same card.
Meanwhile, a decision on the participation of Many Clouds in the Crabbie’s Grand National is likely to be made this weekend.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood was slightly disappointed with the Hennessy winner’s display in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he could only finish a 25-length sixth to Coneygree.
His owner Trevor Hemmings has already won the Grand National twice, with Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs, and would love nothing more than another crack at the great race, but Sherwood is in no rush to commit.
“He’s done nothing for a week, he’ll start doing a bit more this week,” said Sherwood on At The Races. “I’m meeting with Mick Meagher [racing manager] and Trevor Hemmings at the weekend and we’ll probably make a decision then.
“I just want to see how he is over the next 10 days or so.”