Friday racing: Dreamcatching to land Cheltenham handicap for in-form trainer Nicholls

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

It’s Racing Post Trophy weekend at Doncaster with two-days of quality Autumn flat action on the cards, writes CHARLIE CROASDALE.

There’s a belting renewal of the Racing Post Betting Shop Manager Handicap (3.35) over six furlongs with 22 runners declared and I’ll take two against the field, the first of those being Paul Midgley’s six-year-old Naggers.

The chesnut gelding was strongly fancied by yours truly for a competitive sprint handicap at Haydock last week which was unfortunately abandoned, and soft conditions and a big-field look sure to suit Naggers once again.

Based on his bloodless win at Thirsk on soft ground in May, followed shortly after by a terrific second of 16 at Epsom off 95 (when given far too much to do by today’s rider Paul Mulrennan), I’m convinced Naggers has big handicap win in his locker and, off the same mark today, he should get the strong pace to aim and can pick up the pieces late on.

In the same race, Robert Cowell’s Outback Traveller needs backing as a saver, as he’s undeniably well-handicapped based on his best form.

The six-year-old is still relatively lightly-raced for this type of distance and landed the Wokingham in 2016 off a mark of 100, and travelled well in defeat at that track back in Ascot off the same mark.

Outback Traveller was given plenty to do when a fast-finishing fifth of 20 at York a fortnight ago but that run suggests he’s recovered his spark and has kindly been dropped another 2lb in the handicap to 95, a very workable mark.

Jamie Spencer is jocked up, so some luck in-running will certainly be required, but the galloping nature of Doncaster’s straight should suit the gelding’s running style and he could go close.

In the Casino Handicap (4.10), Golden Birthday is proving something of a winning machine for Harry Fry and can keep up the jump trainer’s good recent on the flat.

An unexposed 132-rated hurdler, the six-year-old won easily on his maiden flat debut at Leicester last month before backing that up in a decent handicap off 79 at Kempton.

A 5lb rise for that success looks lenient and – having won on all-weather – the drying ground wouldn’t appear to be an inconvinience and Fran Berry can land the hat-trick.

Ajman King could be on a good mark of 85 and can land the ROA/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Handicap (4.45) under course-specialist Andrea Atzeni.

No one rides the Yorkshire track as well as Roger Varian’s main man, and the three-year-old colt showed bags of promise when landing the odds in an Epsom maiden on October 1, bagging the rail and forging clear.

He remains lightly-raced with just four career starts to-date and make a winning handicap debut in what looks a good opening.

The new jumps season cranks up a notch with some good action at Cheltenham this week, and Dreamcatching looks the best bet on today’s competitive card in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (5.30).

Paul Nicholls has his string in fine fettle, operating at a 32 per cent strike rate in the past two weeks, and this contest looks well within the range of the talented four-year-old, who was last seen winning a pair of novice hurdle events in April.

Prior to that, Dreamcataching ran with promise in a hot juvenile hurdle at Kempton, hacked up in a subsequent novice event on soft ground at Wincanton before finishing down the field in the Fred Winter at the Festival in March.

His mark of 129 has been left alone by the handicapper after those two latest victories and, with excellent 3lb claimer Stan Sheppard booked for the ride, he’ll prove hard to beat coming up the famous Cheltenham hill.

At Wolverhampton tonight, Sennockian Star can regain the winning thread in the Betway Handicap (7.15).

Mark Johnston's tough seven-year-old has run an incredible 27 times in the past 12 months and I’ve always thought he’s a better performer on all-weather as his record of five wins from 26 starts suggests.

Sennockian Star won at Lingfield in February off a mark of 90 but as a result of his turf struggles, he’s now down to 76 and can make hay dropped in grade.

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

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