The British Flat racing season finally draws to a close at Doncaster on Saturday. The November Handicap is the big race of the day on Town Moor and it is ably supported by some other very exciting contests.
Flat racing is only a very small part of the weekend’s festivities though. The ITV Racing cameras will be beaming high quality jumps racing from Aintree, Wincanton and Down Royal so there really is something for everyone. We’ve sifted through the cards of each of the 11 live races and picked out our best bets in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
12:40 Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m5½f
This is the biggest day of racing of the season at Wincanton providing three of the course’s most important races. The Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle isn’t among them but it is a nice prize in its own right and a very good way to kick off the day’s racing.
We’ve only got a relatively small field to pick through but there is lots of quality in the eight runners. That quality certainly stretches down to third favourite Rose Of Arcadia. Her career has not panned out as hoped after catching the eye as a young mare in the colours of Cheveley Park Stud. However, her return from point-to-points went very well at Chepstow last time out and she may be able to take advantage of what should be a strong pace to score at odds of 7/2.
12:50 Download The BetGoodwin App Wentworth Stakes
The Download The BetGoodwin App Wentworth Stakes is the first ITV Racing contest of the day from Doncaster but it’s not the first race on the course’s card. Some shrewd punters will, therefore, wait to watch the opening races to see whether there is any clear draw bias. In lieu of that information the historic trends suggest that horses drawn low will have an advantage here.
Connections of Commanche Hills will be very happy if that is the case. His draw in stall three bodes well for a horse who has run well in the back half of the summer and into autumn and has winning form on soft and good to soft ground. He’s yet to get the job done on heavy ground but that’s not for a lack of ability or hardiness and Commanche Falls can end the season on a high for the Michael Dods team.
1:01 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m½f
David Pipe has some very good horses to go to war with this season. At this early stage he is still drawing up plans for several of his stars and it is interesting that he’s sent Gericault Roque over hurdles for his first run of the campaign. Pipe was never going to drop his six year old back in trip too much as he is an out and out stayer. He just maybe needs to get a run under his belt before going chasing again.
That is particularly true given that this is Gericault Roque’s first run since having wind surgery at the start of August. The old adage about horses is that they really improve on their second run after having their breathing fixed but Gericault Roque’s ability to finish strongly will only improve for the operation and free of any stress in terms of the obstacles he has to navigate he could make an instant improvement to win at the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at a price of 4/1.
1:15 Boodles ‘Rising Stars’ Novices’ Chase
Grade 2, 2m4f
The Boodles ‘Rising Stars’ Novices’ Chase has lived up to its name over the years providing some high class winners. Whether any of the six horses in this year’s field will prove anything like as good as 2016 winner Frodon remains to be seen but McFabulous, Sebastopol and Hang In There should go well over fences in the coming couple of seasons and are set to provide a thrilling battle here.
Paul Nicholls loves the test of jumping that the fences at Wincanton provides. He is a regular visitor to the track which is local to his yard, often bringing some potentially high class performers. McFabulous fits that bill after winning a Grade 2 over hurdles and Nicholls will have him primed to take this first attempt at life as a chaser in his stride so he’s the right favourite at 11/10.
1:30 BetGoodwin New UK Betting Site Irish EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes
Sweet Believer has run well in her last two outings, taking the lead in the early stages before finding one horse too good on both occasions. The market has fittingly priced her up as the second favourite for the BetGoodwin New UK Betting Site Irish EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes with Life Of Dreams the 7/2 favourite but could it be that the best value lies with Darmoiselle?
The quality of Darmoiselle’s run last time out on the all weather at Lingfield was good enough to suggest that she is good enough to win at this level. John and Thady Gosden will rightly believe that run was far from the best of her and that she’ll improve as she returns to turf. She is a very well-bred filly with a sire who has other progeny to have run well on heavy ground so Darmoiselle looks value each way at odds of 12/1.
1:50 61st Badger Beer Handicap Chase
Premier Handicap, 3m1f
Frodon first really caught the eye of racing fans when he won the Rising Stars Chase at Wincanton in 2016. Six years later and he has achieved some remarkable feats in his career but nobody connected with this incredibly popular horse is ready for him to ride off into the sunset just yet.
Frodon is the classiest horse in the 61st Badger Beer Handicap Chase by some way and therefore has to carry top weight of 12st. That’s some burden but Frodon is some horse. With Paul Nicholls sure to have him right and Bryony Frost capable of coaxing world-class performances out of him, Frodon will take some stopping at odds of 9/4.
2:11 BoyleSports Best Odds Guaranteed On Racing Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m5f
We get a glimpse of the Grand National fences next up in the Grand Sefton Handicap. That won’t be good news for all of the 15 contenders as a few of them are sure to fall foul of the challenge that the big spruce fences pose. Al Dancer is as yet unproven on the Grand National course but he is a solid jumper who will have no problems at all with the trip and may be overpriced at 7/1.
As well as the fences there is also a question about whether or not Al Dancer will be able to cope with the ground. He’s only won twice on soft ground before but excels on good to soft so Sam Thomas and Charlie Deutsch will hope that the drainage at Aintree holds out. Providing things don’t deteriorate Al Dancer holds a real chance of earning at least a place at a generous price.
2:32 Ladbrokes Champion Chase
Grade 1, 3m
Willie Mullins does not make a habit of sending his best horses to Down Royal at this early stage of the season. He tends to wait until the Morgiana meeting at Punchestown so it is very interesting that he has Kemboy in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase. As Mullins would have expected, he’ll have to get the better of a couple of Gordon Elliott-trained horses as this is a meeting at which the master of Cullentra House has dominated in recent years.
Kemboy would have a chance in this on his best form but, despite a heartening start to the season, he remains some way off the Grade 1 performer he was in seasons past. Even at a potentially tempting price of 11/2 Kemboy remains a gamble whereas there are no doubts about Galvin’s ability to get it done at the top level. The choice of Davy Russell over Conflated, Galvin is a live Gold Cup contender and a big performance can take his price for the big one at Cheltenham down quite significantly from 25/1.
2:45 BoyleSports Best Odds Guaranteed Day Before Hurdle
Class 2, 2m4f
The top two in the betting for the BoyleSports Best Odds Guaranteed Day Before Hurdle, Brewin’upastorm and Langer Dan, were each last seen at the Aintree Festival in the spring. While the former was pulled up in the Aintree Hurdle, Langer Dan battled to an impressive success in the Aintree Handicap Hurdle.
The odds makers are right that those two are the most likely winners but they might he posed a difficult tactical question by Dashel Drasher. The team of Jeremy Scott and Rex Dingle know very well that Dashel Drasher is a keen horse who likes to get his head out in front nice and early. Dingle will allow the six year old to move to the front to give him the space he needs. If he can dig in enough, Dashel Drasher may be able to hold out to win from the front at odds of 7/2.
3:00 Unibet Elite Hurdle
Grade 2, 1m7f
The elite of any sport is a small and select group but it is still disappointing to see only four horses stand their ground for this year’s edition of the Unibet Elite Hurdle. No doubt, facing only three rivals makes the task that bit easier for Sceau Royal though as he goes in search of a hat-trick of wins in this important race.
Last season did not pan out as Alan King would have hoped for his star 10 year old after he justified an odds-on price to win the Elite Hurdle 12 months ago. Those who felt that time was catching up with Sceau Royal were made to row back somewhat as he won his first start of the new campaign and with further fitness improvements to come, this does look Sceau Royal’s race to lose.
3:13 BetGoodwin November Handicap
Class 2, 1m4f
The BetGoodwin November Handicap is the big race of the day and the last hurrah for the Flat racing season in Britain. It would be fitting if the 1m4f contest were won by a progressive sort who will leave racing fans looking forward to next season. The market suggests that will be the case with Israr a warm favourite at odds of 5/2.
Israr proved that he could win a competitive handicap on heavy ground at Doncaster just two weeks ago. The three year old should be able to cope with the seven-pound raise that the handicapper has given him even though this is a tougher test. The hardy Metier could be the biggest challenger and is worth each way support at 10/1 but the favourite is very much the one to beat.