MELISSA JONES SAYS: Cocozza has the X Factor to triumph in the Lincoln

7:10am Saturday 31st March 2012

TWO months ago the sun was certainly not shining on Wales as our big hope for the world’s most famous race was ruled out through injury.

Beshabar was one of the early favourites for success at Aintree’s Grand National, but luck was unfortunately not on his trainer Tim Vaughan’s side.

Several months before the race, it is almost as impossible as picking the winning lottery numbers to guess which horses will make the final line-up.

But as it nears, everyone from the housewives who enjoy a small flutter to Gwent’s betting shop regulars will be pleased to hear there are still seven Welsh-trained horses among the 59 remaining entries in the April 14 spectacular.

If numbers mean anything Evan Williams holds all the aces, with Cappa Bleu, Aintree specialist State of Play and decent veteran Deep Purple being considered for a trip to Liverpool.

Vaughan has Postmaster and Our Island entered, but the latter is unlikely to make the field unless 14 horses drop out.

Peter Bowen’s Ballyvesey is another who fits that category, while his Always Waining has an alternative engagement in the Topham Chase.

I am lucky enough to be heading to Williams’ Vale of Glamorgan base on Monday to get the lowdown on his Aintree team.

He certainly knows how to ready one for the big race – as State Of Play’s top four finishes for the three successive years prove.

But let’s save all that nervous energy of waiting for the charge to the first fence for another fortnight.

As today the Flat season comes out of hibernation with the first big handicap of the season, the Lincoln at Doncaster.

Cocozza, who shares his name with that former party-loving X-Factor contestant, can spark celebrations by winning this prize.

Trainer Marco Botti is a shrewd operator and he looks to have been targeting this race for his four-year-old, interestingly well-backed this week.

The Flat season’s curtain raiser has a history of throwing up a progressive winner and this one is lightly-raced with scope to do better.

Abergavenny trainer Dave Evans invariably readies a few for this early meeting, so his Brocklesby runner Maypole Joe will be fine-tuned to run his race at 3.50.

He also has his tough little horse Star Rover and several others engaged to run at Doncaster tomorrow.

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