Big Race Preview – The November Handicap
All went a little bit (!) wrong for Hinterland in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday as Paul Nicholls’ quirky chaser blew his chance by being exceptionally fresh and finished the race having been pulled up. Sadly, it was later found that he had burst a blood vessel and that might go some way to explaining why he was such a bitter disappointment in a race that should have suited. Unless the price is excessive, he’s one to avoid next time.
Saturday sees the curtain come down on the flat season, with the November Handicap at Doncaster a fitting closer to proceedings. It’s an exceptionally difficult race to fathom but there are some nice horses set to line up at decent prices and a couple of them might be worthy of a small bet. It’s 10/1 the field at the moment and top of the market is Luca Cumani’s Mount Logan, a progressive 3-year-old who is completely unexposed at 1m 4f.
He’s a horse that I’ve got a lot of time for and, indeed, he won impressively over this C&D last time out, showing that the trip was no issue at all despite a few worries being in place based on his previous spins on the track. I don’t think that he’s on an impossible mark of 103, 7lbs above that win, but this will certainly demand another big step forward and whether you’d want to take 10’s about that occurring now is questionable. There’s plenty of talent there, undoubtedly, but on value grounds I can’t play ball.
Open Eagle will be one of those vying for favouritism before the off and there’s nothing wrong with his current well-being, that’s for sure. He has won two of his latest three starts, the most recent coming at Redcar on Tuesday, and under a 4lb penalty he’s not impossibly treated. The fact that he’s an uncomplicated sort is an obvious positive to his chances and he’s 5lbs lower than when third behind Conduct in this race last term, another run that enhances his claims. However, my issue is that his last couple of wins have come over two-furlongs shorter and the impression he gives off is that he might be vulnerable to stronger stayers over today’s trip. It’s hard to know but I’m happy to look elsewhere for that reason.
There has been plenty of money behind Old Town Boy and he’s a lightly-raced, progressive 3-year-old who has more to offer over middle distances. However, others would have stronger form/value claims in my opinion and instead the first of the two I like is HEADLINE NEWS (12/1). Rae Guest is an exceptional trainer when it comes to handling fillies and mares, and this 5-year-old has been the model of consistency in 2014. Her last time out win at Newmarket was visually impressive as she travelled powerfully throughout before winning more comfortably than the winning margin suggests (got there way too soon) and it’s possible that we haven’t seen the best of her yet. All going well, she will get involved.
ODEON (20/1) takes a bit more explaining given his recent form and lunatic tendencies, but the well-bred 3-year-old colt might be on a workable mark of 101 if he could finally get his act together and given the current price, a small bet will do little harm, for all that it’s in hope rather than expectation. Certainly, if he could return to the level that led to him finishing a close fourth in the Dante at York in May, he would have every chance of getting involved and some of the tasks he has faced since have been far from easy. James Given thinks that Ascot didn’t suit last time out, so maybe going back left-handed will help and cut underfoot might suit too. He’s tough to gauge – and is a real price-play – but it could be worthwhile.
Selections for the November Handicap (3:35 Doncaster; Saturday, 8th November):
Headline News – 12/1, available with a few firms.
Odeon – 20/1 each-way (5 places), available generally.
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