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Charlie Hills confident in Captain Bertie for Lincoln at Doncaster

Updated: Friday, 29 Mar 2013 11:01 | Comments

Captain Bertie is a strong favourite for the Lincoln at Doncaster
Captain Bertie is a strong favourite for the Lincoln at Doncaster

Charlie Hills believes he has an excellent chance of upholding family honour when he saddles Captain Bertie in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday.

The five-year-old has been all the rage this week and has been backed down to clear favourite for the first big race of the new Flat season that was put back a week because of snow.

It is 45 years since his father, Barry, landed a colossal punt in the Lincoln with Frankincense when he was assistant to John Oxley, with the winnings giving him the funds to launch his training career.

Hills won the Lincoln in his own right with Pablo in 2003 before his retirement and now could be the time for his son to add his name to the race's roll of honour.

"Captain Bertie is ready to go and I'm very pleased with him at home," said the Lambourn trainer.

"The ground shouldn't be too much of a problem and the draw (stall seven) looks good.

"There are fancied horses around him and there is plenty of pace, so we can't complain about that. He was drawn 21 last week, so it's probably worked out well for us.

"We know our horse goes well fresh and his work has been good.

"It's not an easy race to win but I don't think there'll be any excuses for our horse."

Captain Bertie's main market rivals are the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned and John Gosden-trained pair of Lahaag and Eshtibaak.

The owner's retained jockey Paul Hanagan plumped for the latter last week but will be in action at the Dubai World Cup meeting in Meydan, leaving Dane O'Neill to take his mount.

"I don't think anything has really changed since last week. Both horses are in good form and we just have to hope for a bit of luck," said the owner's racing manager Angus Gold.

"I think we all know Eshtibaak probably wants a bit further, but I would imagine the ground is going to be soft and that should play to his strengths.

"Lahaag was a nice, progressive horse last year and we just have to hope he can continue going the right way."

Asked which he thought had the best chance, Gold said: "Paul (Hanagan) chose Eshtibaak out of the two last week and I'm not going to argue as he knows far more about the horses than me."

Roger Varian is represented by Gladys' Girl, who has not run since landing a seven-furlong handicap on this course in July 2011.

"It's not ideal having to wait an extra week, but it's the same for everyone," said Varian.

"Our mare has been off for so long anyway, but she's in good form at home and she's definitely a mare with ability.

"It's a very tough and competitive race for her to come back in, but I hope she'll run well and the main thing is she comes through it in one piece and we can look forward to the rest of the season with her."

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