We’re hoping against hope that the finale of the British flat season gets the go-ahead after some heavy rain around Town Moor in recent days, and with the November Handicap set to go off on heavy ground if the green light is given it presents even more of a headache to punters. That said, we reckon this half-dozen have it what it takes:
Birds Of Prey
This would be some story for the Nicholls camp; eminent National Hunt trainer Paul jocking up his talented daughter Megan who claims three and is more than capable in the saddle.
She claimed five of course when this gelding was a good fourth in the race last year behind our selection Royal Line, and it’s hoped by the Ditcheat camp that his subsequent hurdling has improved him plenty. Off the same handicap mark then, the 5yo would have to have a great chance and is high up on the list.
A Frankel 4yo with a great profile for this race; reasonably lightly-raced, fresh after wind surgery, proven on deep ground and of course potentially well-handicapped.
Having already won twice on rain-softened ground, Collide’s best performance as a 3yo was at Nottingham on a very soft surface when he blitzed his opposition, while he started this season off with a win at Kempton on the all-weather.
He ran a cracker on unsuitably fast ground when fourth in the Jorvik Handicap behind First Eleven off today’s mark of 98 before a good fifth at Royal Ascot, again on ground too quick. He’s now fresh, has his surface and should put in a career best performance with the final piece of the puzzle being the 3lbs champion apprentice jockey Cieren Fallon takes off his back.
There’s been strong money all week for Peter Chapple-Hyam’s lightly-raced 4yo who is three from three since joining from the now defunct operation of Jeremy Noseda’s.
He goes on this ground and there’s little doubt that he’s very well handicapped in theory so of course he is high on the list, but off a mark of 100 round here a horse who has clearly had one or two issues may perhaps just be found out a little, though we could not bet against him running very well under Andrea Atzeni.
James Given’s Galileo colt did particularly well on heavy ground at Leicester last time out, winning under Paul Mulrennan and there should be some more to come from him.
The fact that it was a four-runner race, he’s gone up 3lbs which admittedly isn’t much, and that his rate of improvement hasn’t seemed very steep just tempers enthusiasm a little but at prices up to 25/1 at the time of writing, he is a fair each-way shout.
Passion And Glory
Saeed Bin Suroor’s 3yo is an obvious potential improver, but the Godolphin colt was hard at work to win around this track over a mile-and-a-quarter recently and so his 4lb rise, while not too sharp, may well be enough to stop him.
While there are no problems with the ground, his breeding doesn’t offer too much by way of optimism as it’s hard to believe that as a Cape Cross out of a Street Cry mare he can get better for this mile-and-a-half trip, so while a big run should be expected there may be a few too good for him.
Having been in good form over hurdles recently it’s hoped that, much like in the case of Birds Of Prey, he will have come on since his last flat run.
However, that last flat run was only in September and it seems we have a good grasp of where he’s at in his development, as perhaps does the handicapper.
This is a fascinating race, one that if it barely goes ahead will be on pretty much bottomless ground and so we should see some determined yet tired horses looking for the line at the end of this mile-and-a-half contest.
Paul Nicholls’ Birds Of Prey remains of interest having run well in this race last year before improving over hurdles, while the well-fancied Deja could be a lot better than he’s shown thus far.
The solid one though is COLLIDE. He goes on the ground, is well-bred, has more improvement in him, is well-handicapped and comes into the race fresh with a top claimer on board giving him the vote at a fair price.