PURISTS count tomorrow’s meeting at Doncaster as the finale of the Flat season, and trainers and owners are certainly supporting it with a massive 133 horses running across the eight-race card.
It’s not going to be easy for punters to find winners, especially in the big betting race of the day, the 23-runner November Handicap (3.15pm).
John Gosden has won this race five times in the past, so his runners should always be closely considered and he relies on last year’s favourite Royal Line who was only seventh 12 months ago.
The four-year-old will be making just his seventh racecourse appearance and his first since bolting up in a decent handicap at Epsom in April.
Gosden is a master with horses like this, but he’s gone up 10lbs in the weights and looks to have a tough ask on his first start in over six months and from the widest draw in stall 23.
There has been a buzz about Hughie Morrison’s Buzz this week, who has won three of his last four and could still be well-handicapped.
Although a high draw has proved no barrier to success in this race, I’m not sure connections would have chosen 21 and that is enough to put me off.
In such a competitive contest I’m happy to fire two bullets and the first is Kevin Ryan’s ERIK THE RED, who was a close second in this race two years ago.
He’s just 1lb higher now and his last two runs have shown that the fire still burns.
Doncaster suits him well, Ryan’s horses are in good form and I have a feeling that this has been the plan.
The 16/1 available with Coral is a more than fair each-way price from a handy draw in stall 10.
Charlie Appleby has had the most incredible season, which was capped off by Cross Counter’s historic win in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
He’s had massive winners all over the world, but I’m sure he’d still love to land his first November Handicap.
James Doyle takes the ride on his WOLF COUNTRY and I’m convinced we’re yet to see the best of this son of Dubawi.
In May 2017, he won a Listed race at Saint-Cloud over 1m4f before an excellent fifth in the Dante Stakes at York.
The wheels fell off somewhat after that, but on his first start since being gelded he returned with a decent fourth in a handicap at Meydan in February.
Disappointing back on British soil on 1000 Guineas day at Newmarket, he was given a long break, finishing runner-up to tomorrow’s rival Now Children at Goodwood last month.
That will have blown the cobwebs away and he looks set to run a big race at 16/1.
The forecast rain might well dampen the mood for several trainers with runners in this afternoon’s six-furlong Wentworth Stakes (2.05pm), but Andrew Balding won’t be one of them.
He fields the mud-loving DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT, who looks a great bet at 4/1 with Ladbrokes to add this Listed prize to his five career wins so far.
All of those have come on ground described as good-to-soft or worse, with his most recent victory on heavy going at Haydock highlighting just how well he handles it.
He has genuine Group One form having finished third in the Champions Sprint at Ascot last time out and fourth in the Sprint Cup at Haydock before that, while his tendency to break quickly and be up with the pace is ideal for Doncaster’s six furlongs.
The main danger could be Librisa Breeze, also proven at the top level and on soft ground, but he’s finished way down the field on his last two starts without any obvious excuses.
Roger Varian’s progressive Laugh A Minute is two from two at Doncaster, but his best form has been on a sounder surface.
Donjuan Triumphant 2.05pm Doncaster
Erik The Red e/w 3.15pm Doncaster
Wolf Country e/w 3.15pm Doncaster