Charlie Fellowes has high hopes for rising star Atrium at the Lincoln
The four-year-old looked to be on the up last season, hitting his stride in a series of one-mile handicaps and signing off at the end of the term with back-to-back wins at Newbury and then Doncaster. The latter success, a half-length triumph at the St Leger meeting, was against a field of 15 rivals over the Lincoln distance. The big handicap is therefore naturally the Highclere-owned gelding's immediate target, a race for which he is presently a 12-1 shot off a rating of 100. "He's really well, this has been the plan for a very long time," Fellowes said. "We wanted to run him in the Balmoral at the end of last year but he just missed out so we took the decision to call it a day, protect his handicap mark and aim for the Lincoln first thing this year. "He won over course and distance so it seemed a very obvious move. "He's in good order at home, he worked on the grass on Saturday and looked great. He's got another big piece of work to go and that should put him spot on for Saturday week. "He's not a difficult horse to get fit, he's not a big, gross horse, he's a light-framed horse and he's not one that's going to need a run or a racecourse gallop or anything like that. "He keeps himself very fit at home anyway. I'm very happy with where is and we're really looking forward to it." Atrium looked versatile with regards to ground last season, winning on good and soft, but Fellowes noted his best performances came on a surface with slightly more ease in it and that was another factor that pointed to an early-season Lincoln bid. "What we worked out halfway through the year is that he is clearly a lot better when he can get his toe in," he said. "He's a beautiful mover and you'd have no problems running him on quick ground, he'd never get jarred up but he just seems much happier with a bit of ease in the ground. "You wouldn't get that from looking at him because he's a very good mover and he is happy on all grounds, but there is a definite correlation between his performances and being able to get his toe in. "That was another really attractive reason for putting him away and going straight for the Lincoln." Fellowes is also formulating plans for Vintage Stakes winner Marbaan. That victory came over seven furlongs, but two beaten runs at the latter end of the term have caused the trainer to ponder a return to a sprint distance of six furlongs. In the early stages of his career Marbaan ran twice over the trip, finishing third on debut and then winning by five lengths in a Nottingham novice last June. Though a Guineas entry has been made and could still be pursued, Fellowes is expecting the Oasis Dream colt to instead drop back in trip and is thinking of races like the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot as a first port of call. He said: "Marbaan is good, he looks really well and he's done well over the winter. He's not a small horse and what he did last year was very good because he's quite a big boy, not massive but definitely not small. "We're in no rush because there's nothing much for him, he's in the Guineas but we put him in that just in case and I don't think he's really a Guineas horse. "I'm hoping that we actually end up coming back to sprinting, I just felt, especially in Ireland (sixth in the National Stakes), he finished his races very tamely. "Although he won a Group Two over seven (furlongs) at Goodwood, he was stone cold that day over the sharpest seven in the country and he was smuggled into the race. "We had the Greenham pencilled in for him as possible starting point, but I think we could end up starting with something like the Pavilion at Ascot and see where we go from there. "It depends how he's working through April, if he isn't showing me the speed I'm expecting then we could end up in the Greenham and then think about an English Guineas or a French Guineas, but I think we might end up coming back to six furlongs."
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