Lincoln going could aid Swiftly’s chances

Declan Carroll is one man who is pleased the new Flat season will begin on soft ground as his William Hill Lincoln hope Swiftly Done is at his best when the mud is flying.

He won twice last summer in testing conditions, ran well in the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood, but found the quicker ground against him in the Cambridgeshire.

While Carroll expects his stable star to improve throughout the season, he is fit enough to do himself justice with so much prize money on offer.

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“The draw will obviously be a big factor,” said Driffield-based Carroll.

“The Cambridgeshire didn’t really happen for him; the ground was too fast in the end as he likes a bit of cut, which he should get this week.

“He’s ready to run, but it’s a long season so there will be a bit of improvement in him.

“Later in the season he might be a Listed or a Group Three horse, but there’s more money to be won in the big handicaps.

“I’m sure there’s a nice race in him somewhere.

“I don’t know where I’d like him to be drawn, it depends where the pace is I suppose, but I’d imagine we’ll be dropping him in for some cover. We’ll just have to take it as it comes.

“We have aimed him at this, but I do expect him to improve.”

Swiftly Done is a 25-1 chance with Sportingbet for Saturday’s feature at Doncaster.

One man not pleased with all the recent rain is George Baker for his potential runner Belgian Bill.

He ended last season in great form and has had a couple of recent runs in Dubai.

Baker said: “Belgian Bill has Jim Crowley jocked up for Saturday’s Lincoln, but the ground is a worry, a big worry.

“The track does drain well, but whether ‘good to soft’ will feature by Saturday is debatable.

“As ever, it is in the hands of the weather gods, who do their very best to make our lives as tough as possible.”

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander has been left at the head of the weights for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 6.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’s veteran was forced out of this year’s Festival by a lung infection, but could bid to make amends on Merseyside, where he has the Betfair Bowl as another option.

The withdrawal of Albertas Run means the weights will rise by at least another 2lb and, with Quito De La Roque also among the scratchings at the latest forfeit stage, next in the list now is Paul Nicholls’s What A Friend.

Weird Al, who landed the 2011 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, stands his ground, as does stablemate Ballabriggs, who tasted 
National glory two years ago.

Sue Smith’s duo Mr Moonshine and Auroras Encore, as well as the Ferdy Murphy-trained Poker De Sivola, represent Yorkshire interests, while the Willie Mullins pair of Prince De Beauchene and On His Own feature prominently in ante-post markets, but the potential Irish raiding party may be missing Lion Na Bearnai.

Last year’s Irish Grand National hero faces a race against time to be fit for the big race and he has only had one run this season, in the Hennessy at Newbury in December.

Trainer Tom Gibney said: “He’s good, he’s still heading for Aintree just about, but things have not gone to plan and he’s missed a lot of time.

“He’s done a couple of bits of work recently and is coming together, but whether we get there I don’t know.

“It’s been little things. Mine were sick in October and we thought he was okay for the Hennessy, but it turned out he wasn’t so then he needed more time off.

“Then he had trouble with a hind leg; it gives him trouble about once a year, every year. It is certainly something of a weak spot.

“That was before the Bobbyjo which was supposed to be his prep race and then there was a bit of ringworm in the yard.

“He’s had everything bar the plague.

“He’s not fully fit and it hasn’t been perfect. He’s a very fit horse naturally, but I’d say at the minute it’s 50-50 whether he makes Aintree.

“We’ll make a decision as late as possible. He’ll do a couple of bits of work next week and we’ll have a good idea the following week.”

Gibney’s compatriot Tom Mullins will keep Bob Lingo under consideration for the English and Irish Grand Nationals despite his ordinary performance at Down Royal on Saturday.

Last year’s Galway Plate winner has not impressed during the wet winter and was well beaten by Treacle in the Daily Mirror Chase as a 7-4 favourite.

“The race wasn’t run to suit on Saturday – it was a muddling race to say the least,” said Mullins. “But I’m pleased with the way he came out of it, he’s in great form.

“He’s in both Nationals and I’d say he’ll be kept in them up to the last minute.”