We say farewell to the Flat today with the meeting at Doncaster and, at the same time, the Jumps season bursts into life with Grade 1 meetings at Wincanton and Aintree.
Highlight of the Donny card is the ancient Betfred November Handicap at 3.15, when 23 runners go to post over twelve furlongs.
Favourite for the race at 11-2 is the John Gosden trained Royal Line, which runs in the colours made famous by Sheikh-mo and now carried by his daughter. This 3-y-o won his first two races impressively, before finishing last of three in a conditions race at Newbury, which became exceeding tactical. With the trainer having farmed this race three times in the last 5 years, we must start off with a modest win bet on Royal Line.
However, a lightly raced ‘improver’ that has been laid out for this race catches our eye – step forward Towerlands Park, available at 8-1. Clearly somewhat fragile, this 4-y-o has raced only five times in its life, winning two. Gelded earlier this year, Towerlands made its seasonal debut only at the end of last month, finishing a staying on third over ten furlongs at Newbury off a mark of 91. Just 1lb higher this afternoon and stepped up in trip, this must be the one to be on each way, with David Probert doing the steering.
Just before this race, at 2.40 is the Listed (deep breath) Betfred TV EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Gillies Fillies’ Stakes over ten furlongs and this race looks at the mercy of Hugo Palmer’s 3-y-o Vintage Folly. Rated 11 lbs superior to her closest rival in the market, this lightly raced filly has done little wrong in her four runs to date and the 2-1 available should be snapped up.
Best of the Jumps action today is at Wincanton, which features the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at 3.35, with a field of 18. Paul Nicholls just about owns Wincanton, so it’s no surprise to see the yard having 3 representatives in this race and we’re gonna pick one as an each way selection in the shape of Mr Mix. Not to be confused with Little Mix, who are a rubbish girl group, this 6-y-o is already twice a winner over this course, including last time out, when given a perfect waiting ride by Cue Card’s new jockey, Harry Cobden. Just 5 lbs higher today, that riding style makes it difficult for the handicapper to get to grips with the horse’s ability and we fully expect a repeat performance today. 15-2, each way, is the number.
Also in this race is the front-running Hanllan Harri trained by Peter Bowen and ridden today by the very minor Bowen, who can take half a stone off its back. A nice little tune-up over hurdles will have put Harri spot on for this and a merry dance may be led which could have the others in trouble. At 10-1, an each way bet is suggested.
The Unibet Elite Hurdle at 3.00 is the other feature race on the card, with just seven runners lining up. Favourite for this is the Nicky Henderson trained Lough Derg Spirit, but we don’t quite know why. Maybe we’ll find out come 3.10, but we are going to put forward Flying Tiger as the value bet in this race. Winner of the Fred Winter as a juvenile, this 4-y-o warmed up for this by running 5th in a Group 3 at Ascot behind Danehill Kodiac, which is some way to warm up(!)
Only seven runners there may be, but we suggest an each way investment at 11-2.
Royal Line 3.15 Doncaster win @ 11-2 bet365
Towerlands Park 3.15 Doncaster e/w @ 8-1 William Hill (6 places)
Vintage Folly 2.40 Doncaster win @ 9-4 Betbright
Mr Mix 3.35 Wincanton e/w @ 15-2 SkyBet (5 places)
Henllan Harri 3.35 Wincanton e/w @ 10-1 Betfred(5 places)
Flying Tiger 3.00 Wincanton e/w @ 11-2 Coral