A really interesting day of racing ahead, with the end of the Flat season, some quality jumping and for you Yankee fans, the Breeders up tonight. Given all I know about America is that they take a long time to count votes, I'll leave that alone and give you the best of the rest.
1.30 Doncaster – Wentworth Stakes (6f)
A great race, with plenty of your old sprinting favourites.
44 starts to date for the veteran Brando and have a guess how many of those have been at Doncaster? None. I’m as amazed as you are (probably), given the trainers base and the fact there’s three or four races a year at the track he could compete in. Despite an excellent effort at Ascot, which came somewhat out of the blue, I’m giving him the swerve as I’ve never been able to call him right.
Dakota Gold has refound his form in style this autumn and continued in great fashion with victory in the delayed Rous Stakes at Nottingham last month, looking in no danger from a long way out. He’s got the penalties to carry here but in such rude health, he’s hard to discount.
Ostillo is the interesting one, having his first run here for Paul Midgely. Better known as a 7f horse for Simon Crisford, he showed loads of speed to land the Listed Guisborough Stakes at Redcar on his latest start, and it wouldn;t be the first time Paul has taken a 7f horse and turned it into a sprinter (Saluti springs to mind, and I think there’s a couple of others). He'll carry my fiver.
3.15 Doncaster – November Handicap (1m4f)
Two against the field for me here.
Dash Of Spice is the first. Since coming back from a long absence this year, for much of the season he’s basically looked like he’s been getting back to full fitness, and to that end it wasn’t a bad effort at Ascot in September, finishing a close up sixth in a first-time tongue tie. His next effort at Newbury is easily forgiven as the tongue-tie was missing but it was back on again when second to Tulip Fields over C&D last time out. Whilst he was pretty much given the run of things up front, he fought on well once headed and was still trying hard when hampered inside the final furlong by the winner. I can see him turning that form around today, and from a very workable mark, can go close.
I can’t resist a saver on Hiroshima, though. A giant, galloping type, the worry would be the drop back to 12f but there’s no doubting the quality of his latest effort here, making the running and having Ocean Wind well and truly off the bridle three furlongs out before that one made his class tell late. Only beaten a length into third, with fresh air back to anything else, he’s looked a different horse since being equipped with cheekpieces and he’ll surely be staying on when plenty of these have had enough.
2.10 Aintree – 2m4f 0-150 Handicap Chase
I ended up putting the red pen through plenty of these for varying reasons, either looking badly handicapped, or having first runs for new yards (who aren’t known for winning with the straight away) and in the end I had it between Dashing Perk and Espoir De Teillee. I’m no great fan of the Tom George yard, I find them hard to read but if there’s a time to catch Espoir De Teillee, it’s surely today.
His record after a break of 200+ days reads 6131, the 6 coming in a bumper and the 3rd beaten under a length, so it looks very good indeed.The question is whether he’s fairly handicapped for that Ludlow win, but as I say, if here’s a time to catch him, it’s today.
The case for Dashing Perk is a similar one – his record after an absence is very good, his form is strong (his second at Sandown in January has thrown up winners) and he still looks very well weighted. Very lightly raced for his age too, and there might even be more to come from him this season. Looks a winner in waiting once he goes into veterans chases next year too!
3.00 Wincanton – Elite Hurdle
Finding it very hard to oppose Sceau Royal here.
It isn't just the fact that conditions here look absolutely ideal for him, it’s also that the opposition doesn’t look up to the task at this stage. Essentially you’re backing a true Grade 1 horse against one that now has something to prove – Solo – and one that probably just falls short at this level in Diego Du Charmil.
I was with Solo for the Triumph after his easy win in the Adonis but he performed moderately and the handicapper has already held his hands up and effectively said he overrated the Adonis form, dropping Solo from 157 to 149 after that run. You can argue that these conditions could bring out a better effort, good ground and a flatter track might be what he wants, but all the same he’s now got it to prove.
Sceau Royal was a ready winner of the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and a reproduction of that may well be all he needs to win this. You can argue a case for Tequany to outrun his big odds and he might be the one for those wanting to try and take the favourite on with something at a price, but Sceau Royal looks the one to me.
3.35 Wincanton – Badger Ales
The shortlist for this is not a long one.
I could see Potterman running a decent race given he’s going to get his ground, and he probably bumped into one when second to Secret Investor at Chepstow last time, but this is Present Man’s Gold Cup and I’m finding it hard to look past him.
Winner in 2017 and 2018, finding the ground too soft last year, he came back to form when successful at Chepstow last time out, holding off the equally game Crosspark. The handicapper has been generous with a 2lb rise for that, and I see no reason why he can’t give this lot the runaround again. It looks less competitive than the race he won two years ago, and he’s only 2lb higher. That’s neither here nor there, so take him to win this for the third time in four years.
They’ll probably give Bryony the freedom of Wiltshire if he does.
Today's selection – Present Man (e/w) 3.35 Wincanton
Good luck with all your picks today,