The last big betting heat of the season on the Flat comes at Donny on Saturday as the November Handicap rounds off a great year in style.
A big field of 23 look set to go to post and given the prospect of good ground we shouldn’t expect too many surprises this time, though in what is a hugely competitive race nothing is taken for granted with six named against the field.
Birds Of Prey
Fresh from a wind operation, this 4yo Sir Prancealot gelding is expected to carry on improving for National Hunt master Paul Nicholls who as usual jocks up daughter Megan for the ride.
In three runs since arriving from John Oxx’s yard in Ireland his level of form has stayed pretty consistent, though his profile overall is one of a horse getting a little better over middle-distances. Despite doing well last time, he was a beaten favourite on good-to-firm and there is a train of thought that he’d need particularly soft ground on the Flat to be seen to best effect.
Everything For You
A horse on an upward curve and despite his win rate being nothing too special, he remains capable of defying another 4lb rise for a runner-up effort at Newmarket.
He stayed on well at HQ over 9 furlongs on fast ground and it’s thought that this extra distance and sounder surface may help to get the best out of him. His jockey is well renowned for wanting to sit at the back and pass tired rivals and so this chap looks nailed-on to stay late and grab a place.
My Lord And Master
As much as the step up to 1m4f may help, a look at this one’s profile seems to suggest he really needs a test. A fine second to Crossed Baton over 1m2f was achieved around the dips and climbs of Epsom early enough in his career and then a good second last time came over the extended 1m2f at York on very soft ground.
On a flat track on good ground it’s not certain he’ll get quite the test he really wants here and I’d like to see him in action next season, for now though a place would be about right.
Still a young horse with plenty more to offer but it’s noticeable that his form has markedly improved when he’s got proper soft ground and it seems his trainer Ian Williams may have entered him in this assuming that Doncaster in November would produce exactly that.
A horse not without his problems in the past, but one that could get make it right to the top level and as such he’s an automatic danger in this race even off a mark of 105.
That mark is fully 10lbs higher than the one he won off at Epsom early this season and that’ll be enough to put off many backers, though his projected odds this week seem to suggest he will retain plenty of support on Saturday afternoon.
This trip and ground are ideal for a horse who gets into things at the business end in stylish fashion and from there does not lack a finishing kick. The form of his win in the spring is solid and he took that contest so easily he has any amount of improvement left to come.
To Be Wild
Joint top weight with Royal Line, this is a lightly-raced and classy sort but one that so far in a stop-start career has shown that he performs better with a run under his belt. He hasn’t gone for 539 days and as such I’d like to have seem him have a prep run before this, though that is the only doubt about him.
Training techniques as they are these days mean the best handlers have no issue bringing horses back from a long break, from an injury and under top weight so with all that in mind allied to the fact that racing on good ground often helps the classier horses under burdensome weights; ROYAL LINE is the one to be on.
His form is rock solid and yet what he’s done so far is not his best so all-in-all he looks value despite being at or near the head of the market. Birds Of Prey remains dangerous for Paul Nicholls despite the ground while Everything For You can stay on for place money.