THE curtain finally comes down on the flat turf season at Doncaster tomorrow with their traditionally November Handicap fixture.
High profile defeats for top class jumps performers Our Duke, Cue Card, Coneygree and Lil Rockafeller last weekend only served to highlight my reasoning in last week’s column that we’re still a week or so away from the jumps hitting gear, so with that in mind this column switches focus on tomorrow’s action on Town Moor.
The first bet of interest is in-form Shady McCoy in the Handicap (1.35) over seven furlongs.
Ian Williams’ inmate snapped a long losing run at Ascot early last month under a cool Ryan Moore ride, before following up under a 6lb penalty just a week later at York, under tomorrow’s rider Richard Kingscote.
Ridden to challenge a furlong out, Shady McCoy was soon away and clear, and the seven-year-old can defy an 8lb rise to 99 and score here, with soft underfoot conditions and Doncaster’s galloping-style expected to suit.
In the Gillies Fillies’ Stakes (2.40), a listed contest over a mile and two furlongs, the Hugo Palmer trained Vintage Folly can notch a well-deserved victory under Josephine Gordon.
Holding an entry in the Oaks until final declarations, Palmer’s three-year-old ran a fine second behind Shutter Speed at York before disappointing on rattling quick ground at Salisbury, but Vintage Folly put up an excellent performance last time out in the John Musker Fillies’ Stakes at Yarmouth, tanking through the race on the bridle but unfortunate to bump into Jessie Harrington’s Beautfiul Morning, who was strong backed and bolted up.
Receiving weight from her elders and with soft ground ideal, Vintage Folly is well capable of getting off the mark under her excellent rider.
In the November Handicap itself (3.15), Williams can land a valuable double with his four-year-old Saunter.
Formerly with David Mensieur, Williams does very well when freshening up horses from other yards and the gelding ran a fine second (pulled five lengths clear of the rest) behind Torcello at Newmarket six weeks ago.
That was an extremely encouraging debut for Williams (up just 2lb for that display) and should have put him spot on for tomorrow's assignment, and the booking of Jim Crowley suggests they mean business.
At the prices, it’s worth having a saver on Michael Bell’s Towerlands Park, who ran a stormer when returning to the track after a lengthy absence at Newbury a fortnight ago.
The lightly-raced four-year-old travelled well and ran to within a length of 101 and 102 rated rivals, while fourth-placed Awake My Soul boosted the form when landing a gamble at Redcar in midweek. He’s worth having onside at 12/1.
In the concluding Handicap (3.50), Gangland can defy a 5lb weight rise to follow up his recent Yarmouth win.
Relishing some cut underfoot, Richard Fahey’s talented two-year-old made relatively light work of his 12 rivals and could still be well treated off a mark of 73.
Gangland was previously unlucky not to land a decent nursery at Newcastle, making late headway into a fast-finishing second behind Armed Response, who is now rated 81 and, with Paul Hanagan now doing the steering, Fahey’s charge can produce a career best to improve past his main rivals at the Yorkshire venue.
The weights were published this week for the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase and Total Recall looks to have a massive chance if making the journey over for top Irish trainer Willie Mullins.
Total Recall absolutely bolted up on his first start for Mullins since leaving Sandra Hughes’ yard, when landing a huge gamble in the Munster National at Limerick last month.
The British handicapper has put the eight-year-old up 21lb for that bloodless performance but he could still be very well treated and has been allotted a nice racing weight of 10-8. Currently vying for favouritism, he’s worth getting in the book at 8/1.