November Handicap (Class2) 1 mile 4 furlongs Doncaster

donny races handicapSaturday sees the final major handicap of the flat racing season when a maximum field of not more than 23 go to post for what is always a highly competitive affair. Never an easy heat to predict, only a single Jolly, (the David O’Meara trained, Open Eagle, 5 years ago) has managed to win since Snow Princess passed the post in front 24 years ago. However, on a more positive note, in recent renewals, winner finding has not been impossible, and the last 6 victors have been returned at an SP of 10/1 or less. At the time of writing the current favourite, Deja, is trading around the 5/1 mark and has the profile of one laid out for the contest.

A 4yo colt, Deja, is trained by the dual Derby winning handler, Peter Chapple-Hyam, (Dr Devious 1992, and Authorised 1997) and the son of Youmzain, in his 5 race career, has shown a very progressive profile. He has won all of his last 4 starts, and racing over 12f for the first time 129 days ago, when making his seasonal debut, he put up his  most impressive performance to date, coming home 3 1/2L clear of the decent yardstick, Soto Sizzler, on Kempton’s AW track, off a mark of 93.  He showed that he is equally adept on turf, and can handle the demands of a big field handicap, when easily winning a 17 runner Pontefract heat over 10f in October 2018. He hasn’t been seen since Kempton, (Have his Uber shrewd connections been protecting his handicap mark?) but racing off a mark of 100 he looks really well handicapped, and with his proven ability to act on soft ground looks one to be very definitely interested in.

Saeed Bin Suroor won with the 3yo, Prize Money in 2016 and has another likely looking type from the Classic generation with the 3yo, Passion And Glory. Unraced at two, he has won 2 of his 5 starts, both at 10f, but the manner of his latest win at Doncaster on heavy ground, 15 days ago, suggests that Saturday’s trip should be within his compass. Driven clear over a furlong out, he ran on resolutely to hold the challenge of Saturday’s opponent, Dark Lochnagar by a neck. Stoutly bred, by Cape Cross, sire of Derby and Arc winners Sea The Stars and Golden Horn, he beat the now 105 rated
El Misk by 1 3/4L in August, and looks very fairly treated on Saturday’s mark of 93, giving him the flyweight of 8-3 to carry.

Mind you the runner up in that Doncaster heat, Dark Lochnagar, meeting the Bin Suroor Horse on 2lbs better terms, has to enter calculations. It’s unlikely that his talented trainer, Keith Dalgleish, has had too many better bred animals than Dark Lochnagar in his care as he is by the Derby winner Australia, a son of the great Galileo, and is out of the 2005 1000gns winner, Virginia Waters. The yard is in top form and it wouldn’t surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday if getting into the race, ( needs 4 above him to come out).

2015 November Handicap.

There seems to be plenty of interest in the markets in Hugo Palmer’s 4yo son of Frankel, Collide. A winner of 4 of his 10 starts he made his first attempt at 12f a winning one when winning a Kempton Class3 on his seasonal debut in April off a mark of 96. He followed up with two respectable efforts at York, 4/18, and Royal Ascot 5/19, but finished out the back last time over 14f at Headquarters in July. Twice a winner on soft, Hugo has booked the excellent 3lbs claimer, Ciaran Fallon, and  he looks set for a big run on his mark of 98 at the weekend.

If the Mark Johnston trained, Bo Samaraan gets into the race, (needs 3 above him to come out) he could be interesting. The 3yo son of Sea The Stars failed to win in his first 8 starts but has come good the last twice, winning a 12f Catterick Class4 on heavy ground 11 days ago off a mark of 85, with a dour staying performance. Mark has won this twice before so knows what is required and Bo Samaraan, an improving 3yo is just the type the Middleham trainer excels with.

Irish trainers have had a fair old time harvesting top English handicaps this season, and Tony Martin will be hoping to add to their haul with his 4yo filly, Melburnian.
A daughter of Zambezi Sun, she has a relatively poor strike rate of 3/21 but demonstrated in emphatic style 14 days ago how well suited by a big field 12f handicap run on testing ground she is. Racing off a mark of 77 in Leopardstown’s October Handicap on heavy ground, she took it up at the furlong marker and stayed on strongly to win easily by 2 3/4L. She is a half sister to the very talented Heartbreak City,
(also trained by Tony) who improved with age (was only beaten a head in the
Melbourne Cup as a 6yo) and Melburnian may prove to be a similar type. The old adage to follow a filly in form this time of the year could be well worth remembering.

Selection.  : Bo Samaraan   if abs  Deja

EW.              : Melburnian.   If abs Passion And Glory

Saeed

John Gray

Ayr Gold Cup 6f Saturday

Peter CH

Peter Chappell-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay has been campaigned at 7f and further but it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented for an animal with such credentials to win.

It was most disappointing that last week’s selection in the St Leger, Order Of St George, was re routed to the Irish equivalent because of concerns with the going at Doncaster. It seems to this observer that good ground was highly likely at the Yorkshire track, and indeed the Doncaster race was run on ground very similar to the one that prevailed at the Curragh where the O’Brien horse won in a hack canter.

There can be little doubt that he would have won at Doncaster and yet again, scant consideration was afforded to ante post punters. However our next best, Bondi Beach,(after a prolonged inquiry) did collect, so upwards and onwards. Saturday’s Ayr Gold Cup, with twenty five runners theoretically handicapped to cross the finishing line together, looks a much trickier puzzle to solve. Happily there are a few strong trends which may help in finding a solution. All of the last ten winners were rated at least 97, and with only two exceptions, carried at least 9st. Only two managed a burden of more than 9st4lbs. Another very relevant stat is the fact that only two of the last ten winners had managed to cross the line in front in more than one race that season, probably highlighting connections desire to minimise the amount of weight carried. It is one of the toughest sprint handicaps of the year, run over a demanding course, with the weather often playing a hand, so stamina is most important. A proven ability over the trip is essential, and the stamina to stay further is a definite asset.

Having won all of his four starts, the Richard Fahey trained 3yo Dutch Art gelding, and current favourite, Don’t Touch is on a real roll. Tackling a Class2 handicap for the first time, he showed maturity beyond his years, when taking the Great St Wilfred at Ripon last time out. Backed in to 4/1 favourite in an admittedly depleted thirteen runner field, he ran on strongly when the penny dropped inside the final furlong, to win by a head off a mark of 96. He is sure to have learnt a lot at Ripon, and although 3yo’s have a poor recent record (thirteen years since one won) he looks well treated off a mark of 101 giving him a nice racing weight of 9st1lb and is shortlisted.

Kevin Ryan, who has won the race three times, (twice in the last four years) has an interesting contender with his 4yo gelding, Lexington Abbey. He went down by a short head at Nottingham eight weeks ago off a mark of 95 and was put up 2lbs, almost guaranteeing him a place in Saturday’s field. Given ground no worse than good-soft, he is worth a second look at a big price particularly as Irish ace Pat Smullen has been booked.

The Andrew Balding trained 7yo Highland Colori won this two years ago off a mark of 104 and gets into this years renewal off a mark 1lb lower. Having raced prominently he faded to finish eighth last time, in his first run for twelve weeks, but previously had shown the engine was still there when beaten less than a length in a Class2 7f Newmarket handicap. He seems to be suited by plenty of give these days, and there is little doubt that his shrewd trainer will have him primed for a repeat of his 2013 performance.

David O’Meara’s 4yo Highland Acclaim got going too late in last weeks 5 1/2f Portland handicap at Doncaster, but came home in grand style finishing 5th off a mark of 98. Bound to be well suited by the extra 1/2f at the weekend, and again racing off 98 O’Meara must have strong prospects of repeating last years success with Louis The Pious.

Marco Botti’s 4yo Golden Steps showed that he was on an upward curve when taking a Class2 handicap at Goodwood last time off a mark of 96. Dettori, who has ridden the winner twice in the past six years has been booked, so although up 7lbs since Goodwood must be considered.

Peter Chappell-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay has been campaigned at 7f and further but it certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented for an animal with such credentials to win. Indeed three of the last ten winners had won over further than six furlongs and the above mentioned Highland Colori boasted success over a mile. Buckstay won his last race, a 7f Class2 handicap at headquarters off a mark of 97 and races at the weekend off a 4lb higher mark. He probably handles most conditions, so it’s unlikely his uber shrewd trainer is travelling north without serious ambition.

Selection: Buckstay.

E.W. : Highland Colori.