In 2014 Top Notch Tonto finished 8 lengths behind Olympic Glory off level weights in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. The horse has won at Group 3 level in the past so is undoubtedly a Group horse running in a handicap in the Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday.
The race is the first of 33 Heritage Handicaps during the turf Flat season which have a poor record for favourites over the last three years. The SP favourite has not won since 2010 and the average price of the last six winners is over 16/1.
In a fluctuating market, Chelsea Lad was backed early in the week but doesn’t run so Top Notch Tonto is the horse for money as post time approaches. There could be a maximum field of 22 runners in the Lincoln which means place terms of one-quarter the odds for the first four.
At 25/1 Top Notch Tonto represented tremendous each way value but having been slashed to 10/1 the horse must now be backed win only. I’d place your bets with a bookmaker offering best odds guaranteed on Saturday as the horse could be shorter at race time.
Top Notch Tonto was only 10th of 13 behind Nimr in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton earlier this month which doesn’t augur well for one of the most competitive handicaps of the season.
The trainer, Brian Ellison, feels the horse needed that run on a track and surface that was far from ideal. The projected soft ground at Doncaster is a positive and the horse has pleased Ellison in work at home. Top Notch Tonto has almost one stone in hand on his highest historical rating
Since 2000 every winner of the Lincoln has been aged 4, 5 or 6 and Top Notch Tonto is a year older. Another negative could be the weight allocation of nine stone six pounds as only two winners since 1965 have won with that burden or more.
However, Ellison has given the ride to Ben Robinson, a claimer who takes seven pounds off through his allowance. In a tight handicap that could make the difference between winning the race and being unplaced.
Top Notch Tonto would be quite well handicapped without the jockey’s allowance but that weight concession provides a decent margin for error. In a big field handicap luck in running is crucial but the race is on the straight course and interference in the race is less likely than on a round course.
Ellison has trained Top Notch Tonto with the Lincoln in mind and the trainer thinks his horse is tailor made for the contest. The early birds have hovered up the bigger prices but the odds should not put you off a potential good thing and 10/1 is still a working man’s price. A near career best effort would get the job done.
Tip: Top Notch Tonto to win the Lincoln (3.35pm on Saturday) at 10/1 with William Hill.