Doncaster’s historic November Handicap traditionally brings the curtain down on the Flat season, representing the last time punters can get stuck into a competitive, top-end turf handicap.
Three-year olds dominated this race back in the day and still represent 16 of the last 35 winners, but it has become increasingly hard for them to make the cut and with representation down some shrewdies have been quick to support the few potentially left in the field.
MY LORD AND MASTER fits that bill but was seven and a half lengths behind Hughie Morrison’s BUZZ at Newbury where he was slow away from the gates, but he shaped much better at York when second to Aquarium.
He remains unexposed at this trip and is expected to progress but NOW CHILDREN looks the one to beat. A new recruit to the yard of Clive Cox, he has won twice this season including last time out at Goodwood.
The handicapper might be getting more than a Christmas card after raising his mark by just 6lb given his clear superiority that day and the four-year-old may prove to be too good for the rest including RESHOUN who is bidding to give Ian Williams a second successive win.
Elsewhere on the card DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT could end his barren run this year in the Listed Wentworth Stakes at 2.05, and Carrigill’s go 4/1 about Andrew Balding’s five-year-old who has performed well in better company without hitting the line first.
Balding has had a record year and James Doyle is an eye catching booking and rain softened ground will also be a plus, but HEY JONESY has run well in equally impressive company.
Kevin Ryan’s colt has also been set some tough tasks since landing a York novice back in July and his latest third at Ascot came behind a pair of horses who ran in Group 1 company next time out. The only other horse of this calibre is the out of sorts LIBRISA BREEZE and HEY JONESY can land his second win of the season.
Tim Easterby has won three of the last five runnings of the 3.50 and had the half length runner-up last year and DREAM OF HONOUR can extend his great record in this race.
Over at Aintree rain may arrive just in time for KAYF ADVENTURE who relishes soft ground. The handicapper has left him alone following an easy second place finish at Newbury last time out and he should have more to offer.
The ITV cameras will be at Wincanton where last year’s winner PRESENT MAN goes again in the Badger Ales Trophy. Paul Nicholls’ charge loves it here and he has slipped back down the weights for a race he has been prepared for.
I tipped SAM RED at Cheltenham when he became Dan Skelton’s 100th winner of the season albeit thanks to Oighear Dubh ducking through the tapes on the run in. He remains well treated on his very best form and will carry my each way money based on positive vibes from connections.
CARRIGILL’S NAP (Stake returned as a free bet if selection does not finish in the top 4):
DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT, Saturday, Doncaster, 2.05.
AUGUR’S BEST BET: SAM RED (e/w), Saturday, Wincanton, 3.35.