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Paul Hanagan chooses Eshtibaak over favourite Lahaag in the Lincoln

The John Gosden-trained Lahaag maybe bookmakers’ idea of favourite for the Lincoln at Doncaster this Saturday, but two-time champion jockey Paul Hanagan begs to differ.

In his role as retained jockey to Hamdan Al Maktoum the Warrington-born pilot had the choice between his Lahaag or his employer’s other entrant Eshtibaak and opted for the latter in a bid to improve on a career best third-place in the Lincoln.

Lahaag will instead be ridden by 20-time-Group-1-winner William Buick, meaning his chances will not be hindered for want of a high quality big race jockey.

Yet to finish out of the first two in four career starts, Lahaag is four years old, a vintage that has dominated the last decade of Lincolns with six of the 10 winners.

Eight of 10 victors during that period carried between 8st9lbs and 9st2lbs, whilst nine of the 10 scorers were rated 95 or higher.

Both trends confirm Lahaag – whose official rating of 95 sees him carry 8st12lbs – to have the profile of a potential winner of the first big handicap of the season.

With the weather at Doncaster set to deteriorate to the extent that a track inspection has already been called for Saturday morning, it may be Eshtibaak’s greater stamina – the five year-old son of Dalakhani has done all his winning at 1m2f – that has convinced Hanagan that he is the mount to be on because there are few other obvious reasons for the jockey’s decision.

In terms of handling ground that’s soft even before snow is forecast to hit on Friday morning it’s Lahaag who has more evidence in his favour, having finished a head second to the reopposing Chapter Seven over 1m1f at York last term on Soft going. Conversley Eshtibaak has yet to be campaigned on soft ground.