Saturday’s Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster brings down the curtain on the 2012 Flat season on Turf in the UK and has attracted the usual collection of experienced handicappers and improving three-year-olds.
This is always a very difficult race to analyse as, at this time of year, you can never be sure which horses have gone ‘over the top’ and had enough for the season though market leader, Sir Henry Cecil‘s First Mohican, has hardly been over-raced. The four-year-old has only had three career starts, spread over two years, and has won them all. He beat one of today’s rivals, Art Scholar, over 1m2f at Nottingham on his latest appearance but there are a few areas of concern. This will be his first run over the longer trip, all of his races so far have been run on soft ground or worse and he now competes off a rating of 100. That’s outside the normal parameters when trying to find the winner of the November Handicap. All in all, his general 7/2 quote offers little in the way of value.
Godolphin have four in the race but Samba King (40/1 in several places) is out of form and Darley Sun (the same odds with Stan James and William Hill) looks a shadow of his former self. Retrieve (20/1 with William Hill) and Songcraft (33/1 with William Hill) have a lot of weight to carry. Voodoo Prince, fourth to Fattsota at Ascot last month, is interesting, however, and can be backed at a general 20/1 while Blue Surf held on well at Newbury last time – he’s a 12/1 chance with Betfred. Nicholascopernicus enters the equation after quickening clear over the distance at Goodwood and is in to a best 8/1 while Clayton can still be backed at 11/1 with sportingbet having got outpaced over 1m2f at Newmarket.
The Tiger (a general 12/1) and Bridle Belle (20/1 with William Hill) are both chasing end-of-season hat-tricks and Kirthill (available at 12/1) will have Kieren Fallon in the saddle but no-one is more adept at improving three-year-olds than Mark Johnston and his Party Line may still be a step ahead of the handicapper.
They say you should always follow a filly in form and that description certainly applies to this daughter of Montjeu. She outbattled the much-improved Art Scholar (16/1 with Paddy Power) over the C&D on her latest start, following up a very game second at Ascot. Though now on a career-high mark and having her 14 start of the campaign, Party Line looks a real terrier and the type to relish the hustle and bustle of this valuable handicap. She is 64/5 on Betfair and should give supporters a run for their money again.