There’s plenty of great action to come over the timber in the coming months but for now the Flat can have one last hurrah with Doncaster hosting the November Handicap meeting and that’s where we focus our attention this week.
There is an intriguing Grade 2 hurdle at Navan on Sunday which we also have a tip for, but we start at Donny with the Listed Gillies Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter to get us off to a flying start.
Saturday 10th November 2018Embed from Getty Images
1.30 Doncaster (Gillies Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – QUEEN OF TIME
I’m not usually one for banging on about trainer form, but I’d much rather have seen Dermot Weld’s string in markedly better nick since Bona Fide took a handicap in good style two-and-a-half weeks ago and as such she’s passed over despite being good value if on song on the day.
Maid To Remember is probably the most solid one in the line-up if we’re going on the basic form we can read, however Henry Candy’s Queen Of Time has achieved the top rating in this field without as yet showing us her very best form in my opinion and so we may see a career best performance which can land her this Listed prize under Harry Bentley.
2.05 Doncaster (Wentworth Stakes – Listed Race) – LAUGH A MINUTE
If we were previewing this race a couple of years ago the likes of Librisa Breeze and Gordon Lord Byron would be in a different league however their best days are behind them (dangerous to say, I know) and it seems like it’s time to pass the baton on now to a younger horse.
In what otherwise looks like another tight Listed Race, the one who could prove to be just a level above this lot at this stage of his career is Laugh A Minute and it’s Roger Varian’s runner who therefore gets the nod under Andrea Atzeni.
The turn of foot he showed in a four-runner race back here in August was eye-catching and then his runner-up effort in France and no-show last month at Ascot were both due to the ground being too soft for him so it’s a blessing he has been given the chance to run on good ground one more time before being put away for the winter.
2.45 Doncaster (7f Handicap) – GREAT PROSPECTOR
Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan even after everything they’ve achieved both together and apart probably still don’t quite get the praise they deserve in the game and while a win in this race wouldn’t change all that, it would at least be another well deserved victory for the crack pairing.
Great Prospector wants this sound surface and the seven furlong trip seems ideal and so after a fine third in the Listed Guisborough Stakes at Redcar five weeks ago he seems well enough handicapped to me off a mark of 100 to take this at a good value price, especially having been rested for a while.
David Barron has booked Joe Fanning for Danielsflyer and the 4yo is another who can go well, while the trusty Fire Brigade of Michael Bell’s yard is another who will prove popular and could reward each-way backers with a place.
6.00 Chelmsford (Galleywood Handicap) – KELTIE
John Gosden has had much bigger fish to fry of late and this Keltie is no Cracksman or Enable but what he is, is potentially very well handicapped for this 1m6f staying race and he may yet be allowed to go off at an attractive price on the night.
The race may revolve around the three-year-olds at the bottom of the handicap and Keltie is one of them. He was a beaten favourite last time over a similar trip around this course but it is thought that things just weren’t right for him that day and more is expected this time under Nicky Mackay.
The form of his maiden win at Kempton in October is what attracts me to him however after he won that race in the style of a horse going up the ladder and so what he achieved that day seems to put him on a higher plain to the mark of 83 he’s been given and it may yet prove a lenient move by the assessor.
Lissitzky and the in-form Landue can both prove to be dangers while Keltie’s inmate Stream Song may also yet have a say in things.
Sunday 11th November 2018Embed from Getty Images
1.35 Navan (Lismullen Hurdle – Grade 2) – BAPAUME
I always find it amazing when jumps fans call the Flat boring and dominated by certain owners when time after time we see so many of the top contenders in Irish jumps racing owned essentially by one man. The divisive Michael O’Leary has three more contenders in this race in the run-up to the weekend but it may not be one of his who wins this.
Apple’s Jade took this race last year but conditions are different this time and as good as she is she could be vulnerable to Willie Mullins’ improving 5yo gelding Bapaume. A winner in Grade 2 company at Auteuil in the summer he is definitely getting better and could yet be a Grade 1 contender at Cheltenham and/or Aintree later in the season, as well as Punchestown.
Both Identity Thief and Dortmund Park, should they run, can show themselves to be in good order but the son of Turtle Bowl could prove to be the one to be on as long as he’s allowed to take his chance. Apple’s Jade would be next best on the list.