Despite having already got our teeth into the jumps season, there is still one more major betting handicap on the Flat to attempt to solve this weekend in the shape of the November Handicap.
As usual, this race will be run in very testing conditions around one and a half miles of Town Moor for £70,000. What makes it especially competitive is that we have a near-maximum field of 22 runners too, meaning in theory the draw can play a big part.
These are the six we fancy against the field.
Whether there’s been a problem with Cemhaan or whether he’s simply been laid out and made to wait for his ground we genuinely don’t know. The fact however is that George Baker’s five-year-old has an obvious chance of victory.
Having improved overall across fully 20 career races, we can’t say that we’ve seen the very best of this horse yet. When last seen ten weeks ago at Newmarket, he swept to victory on soft ground in the July Course impressively and certainly has a race like this in him.
What remains is to work out whether his 5lb rise underestimates him or not.
Under the admittedly excellent Roger Varian, it seems this horse never got to race on his favoured ground.
Since joining Jane Chapple-Hyam however he scorched to victory at Nottingham on the soft, and was only just held last time out on heavy here at Doncaster over 1¼ miles.
The extra two furlongs may help and it is remembered that he was backed from more than 3/1 down to 6/4 when last seen.
John and Thady Gosden’s three-year-old colt is the star of this race, there’s no doubt about that, with punters needing to decide whether his likely price, his draw or his 7lb rise for winning last time are enough to put them off. We’d say no.
He beat Savvy Victory and Frantastic on his debut, won the London Gold Cup from second-top weight which often produces Group winners and finished third on unsuitable ground behind Secret State and Deauville Legend; both placed in the Great Voltigeur and the latter third in the Melbourne Cup.
To top it all off, he was a course and distance winner last time out on heavy ground. He won ever so easily that day making the 7lb rise look more than fair, while he’s also improving.
Certainly, there will be money for Metier. You’d like to think his trainer Harry Fry knows full well that he’s improved a good amount since last being seen on the Flat and we know he can handle this sort of ground too.
That improvement doesn’t always come when swapping codes however and this is a very hard race indeed.
William Haggas does very well in these big Yorkshire handicaps, that’s for sure. Nathaniel Greene was sent off favourite for one of them last time, a Heritage Handicap at York over 1¾ miles.
That day he was beaten by a stablemate but the time before he was more impressive on softer ground across at Haydock, a track that takes some getting in the rain.
He is dropping back two furlongs here but the heavy ground may really bring his stamina into play and that cannot be ignored.
Amo Racing have a couple of good contenders and we only just left Mr Alan off the shortlist.
Richard Hannon’s Sir Rumi deserves to be on it though, much than anything else for chasing home Israr over the course and distance last time. That one piece of form would be the best in the race, other than his conqueror’s form of course.
A few of the fancied runners are drawn wide in this race, perhaps negating the effect the stalls position has just a tad.
A good number of these are hard to split using all known KPI’s, perhaps First Officer and Cemhaan being the best of the support cast, but there’s no getting away from the chances of ISRAR who is the star.
It’s not just his form and improvement that is impressive. He has also shown far superior speed to the others in this group and uniquely has done it on very heavy ground over this course and distance too.