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Sam Collett brings Lincoln King back to scale after his decisive last start win at Te Aroha. PHOTO: Kenton Wright/Race Images.

Stephen: I’ll be disappointed if Lincoln King doesn’t hold his own in the Dunstan qualifier

A small field at Ellerslie on Saturday will help Lincoln King in his quest for points to qualify for the $100,000 Dunstan Stayers Championship on New Year’s Day.

While drawn the outside of the nine-horse field, which virtually ensures he will have to come from the back, trainer Stephen Marsh says hopefully he won’t have too many traffic problems.

“It would have been nice to have drawn a bit better so he could have used the draw, as these races can become a crawl, but all he needs is a nice tempo so he can bowl along and finish over the top them.”

Marsh, who on 36 wins this season is only one behind trainers’ premiership leader Jamie Richards, doesn’t expect Lincoln King’s unfamiliarity with the undulating Ellerslie course to affect him.

“He’s not the kind of horse to worry about that. Even though they generally improve with a run there, I’m not worried about that.”

Marsh is happy that Lincoln King will be racing in the opening race on Saturday so the drying conditions at Ellerslie don’t work against him.

Stephen Marsh is enjoying a fantastic season with 36 wins, only one behind premiership leader Jamie Richards. PHOTO: Peter Rubery.Stephen Marsh is enjoying a fantastic season with 36 wins, only one behind premiership leader Jamie Richards. PHOTO: Peter Rubery.The track today had improved to a dead 5 and, with little to no rain forecast, track staff having irrigated 15ml of water in the last 12 hours.

Marsh knows Lincoln King didn’t beat much in his hollow three and a half length trouncing of Iskander at Te Aroha on November 12 but he says the horse keeps stepping up.

“You can only beat what you’re up against and he’s a nice stayer coming through the grades which is good because the staying ranks aren’t overly strong at the moment.”

Marsh says he’ll be disappointed if Lincoln King doesn’t hold his own in Saturday’s rating 72 event, where the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Spring Delight and Jamie Richards’ Mazzuro look hardest to beat.

“He’s racing in really good form this time in and Sam (Collett) knows him well now.”

The sole glitch in Lincoln King’s form line came two starts back when he ran into a brick wall in the home straight while mounting a strong finish.

Marsh says Lincoln King can virtually guarantee himself a berth in the January 1 final by finishing in the top two on Saturday and he would probably make the field if he ran third.

Points in the qualifying races are nine for first, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth with fifth earning two points and every other runner one.

“If we’re desperate for points he could run in another race at Te Rapa in two weeks.”

There are actually four remaining qualifying races - at Ellerslie on December 7, Te Rapa on December 14 and 21 and Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

Lincoln King is one of four stayers Marsh has trying to qualify for the 2400 metre final which is open to horses who had not won more than three races at the start of November.

Our runners this week: How our trainers rate them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Trentham

Race 3: Lincoln Raider

“He has come through his last run at Awapuni well and meets a handy line up with Sinarahma, who beat us last time, the danger. While the inside is not an ideal draw for him we have one of the best aboard in Opie Bosson and I’m sure he’ll find a path through them. This race looks well within his capabilities and he will enjoy being back on the roomy track where he has won three of his four races.”

Race 6: Platinum Road

“He won his first race here in December and ran a top third at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. He has pleased me with how he has come through the trip away and I’m very happy with him. He gets in on the minimum weight of 54kg and meets a field of older horses that has some form in it. But this race fits in well with his derby programme and I’m expecting another top run from him.”

Race 9: Kamanda Lincoln

“I’ve changed his gear and gone back to the ring bit. I’ll be instructing Darryl (Bradley) to try to get handier to them as he’s been giving the opposition too big a start. Over 3200 metres there’s no reason why he can’t be closer. He ran ninth in the cup last year after starting from barrier 17 so I think the better draw is the key to his chances. He gets in on the minimum of 53kg.”

Race 9: Johnny Lincoln

“He’s been running very honest races and keeps grinding away so I feel the distance will suit him. He has continued to please me in training and, while I would have preferred a better draw, we will look to roll forward with him and hopefully Robbie (Hannam) can get a nice spot. These races are won by horses who can run out the 3200 metres strongly and I am really looking forward to seeing how he performs.”

Race 10: Lincoln Star

“I have brought him back in distance after his last run over a middle distance on Boxing Day. He has drawn well and should be able to get a nice, economical trip in midfield. The big track will suit him and has run some very good races over 1600 metres so, if he can reproduce his best form, he is capable of being right in the finish. His recent work has been good.”

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Monday at Otaki

Race 3: Lincoln Town

“He was disappointing in his jumpout when ridden in behind. His trackwork since has been only fair but he is an average track worker anyway who only does as much as he has to. All his form has been on rain-affected tracks so we will see on Monday whether he can go on top of the ground.”

Race 5: Benny Lincoln

“He ran a cracking race last time at Otaki and will appreciate the step-up to 1600 metres. He will also be against his own age group here. His work has been good and this looks a very winnable race for him.”

Race 6: Lincoln Lane

“He’s first-up after a long break but has improved a lot since his jumpout and has a good draw to use. I will be happy to just see him doing his best work at the finish.”

Race 7: Master Lincoln

“He ran a very good fourth when resuming and has trained on very well since. He has an awkward gate to overcome but it’s only a moderate field. Any give in the track will help his chances as his best form appears to be on dead surfaces.”