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November Handicap preview

It might be Cup week in Melbourne and Breeders Cup weekend at Santa Anita, but it's the finale for the British Flat season tomorrow at Doncaster. Previewing the dastardly deep November Handicap is shrewd handicap specialist @RightJudgeIam.


Betfred November Handicap
£80,000, Class 2, 1m4f
Saturday 1535 GMT, Sunday 0235 AEDST

The last big handicap run on the last day of the flat Turf season on Town Moor. A decent prize just shy of £50,000 will ensure a competitive race as will the maximum field of 23 runners. This is a high class handicap with the top weight, and last year's winner, Litigant running off an Official Mark of 110. This is the last chance to land a decent pot for many of these runners this year and for punters, like me, who specialise in large field, good quality turf handicaps.

In most years, given it takes place in November in the North of England, we can expect the going to be on the soft side of good. The last two renewals have been run on heavy going. However, following a prolonged dry spell and with no rain predicted as I write on Thursday 3rd, the race is set to go on good to firm going which many trainers may not have factored into calculations.

In these races I'm always trying to answer the question: what type of horse wins this kind of race? In this case, the race is typically won by a 3 or 4 year old coming in on the back of a lifetime best effort, probably in a class 2 or 3 handicap at around 10 to 12 furlongs. If I have it correctly,last year's winner was the first since at least 1980 to be over six years old when winning this race.

It appears you also need at least some class and a win in at least a class 3 handicap would seem essential for the typical November winner. As in many races recent form, a good placing last time out or maybe the time before, is crucial with those who have been struggling to get near the leaders in recent races unlikely to be landing this prize.

I'll have a look at the runners and then create my short list as usual. Here we go in race card order:

Litigant: very high class handicapper, won this and the Ebor in 2015, loves cut in the ground as he is considered fragile. I wonder whether he will be risked if the going is quick. Just had two starts this year and looks an unlikely winner. 16/1

Tawdeea: Typically progressive handicapper from the O'Meara academy, started 2016 on 87 and now runs here off 106 having won last time out. Earlier won the Old Newton Cup at Haydock off 11lb lower and on soft ground. Will need to improve a fair bit again to prevail here. 16/1

Cymro: Won a class 2 handicap first time out this season off 99 and another two starts ago off 100 so could be well handicapped still here off 101. The trainer has been quoted on numerous occasions saying he prefers soft ground so that raises a question mark with all five career wins on good or softer. 25/1

Prize Money: Godolphin-owned 3 year old with only six career starts only one of which in a handicap off 12lb lower. Stiff task off 107 for me but should like quick ground. Trainer applies a first time hood and booked a decent 5lb claiming jockey. A lay off of over 100 days is a big turn off for me though. 14/1

Fabricate: lightly raced, 4yo, won last time out at this trip in a career best effort, should make him a contender right? He will need to improve a fair bit to win here. 14/1

Dashing Star: only made 2016 debut 12 days ago, was third in the 2014 renewal of this off 2lb lower, 17lb higher than only win in a handicap 3 years ago and looks to face a monumental task here 20/1

What About Carlo: last time out winner, yard having tremendous season and this in form horse is hard to dismiss, however never won on anything faster than good and can hardly be described as 'lightly raced' after 30 career starts. 16/1

Not So Sleepy: was highly tried as a 3yo in 2015 after winning the Listed Dee Stakes then running in a series of Group races showing no form; ran best of 2016 when 3rd in a handicap at Newbury, stayed nicely from rear in a steadily run race. Could he now be ready to show what the trainer thought he might? Won twice in small fields on soft. 20/1

Montaly: decent 5yo handicapper, not won since 3 year old season, went very close over 1 mile 6 furlongs penultimate start on soft then tried in a Group 1 in France. 7lb higher than last win in a handicap. 20/1

Soldier In Action: 11lb higher than when winning his latest start and now off 105 which seems a stiff mark. 12/1

Mirsaale: Been hurdling the last four times and won twice, 8lb higher than last winning mark and not the typical profile for a winner of this. 25/1

Mistiroc: ran in this in 2015 finishing 4th which is a fair indicator but two down the field efforts of late are off putting. 33/1

Fattsota: 8yo with 44 flat starts, ran OK latest but thoroughly exposed and a very unlikely winner 25/1

Erik The Red: Progressed well in 2015 but unable to win in 2016 so far and still 10lb higher than last winning mark. Having his first try at 12 furlongs, could that bring about the 5 or so lbs he needs to find? Went close off this mark in a weak race at Ayr over a mile earlier this year.14/1

Sir Chauvelin: progressed well from start of the year when he won a hurdle race, back to back wins at Hamilton on both soft and fast ground but now 12lbs higher than for the last win and was last in the Ebor on final start. Been a long year and a lot to ask to produce a career best here. 33/1

Cape Cova: Gosden has won this race twice before and he puts blinkers on this 3yo for the first time after he appeared sluggish despite winning last time. If the blinkers have a positive effect he looks a major player. Didn't make it to the racecourse until June 2016 and may now be progressing and will be one of those that will like the fast ground. 7/1

Qassem: Ex-Andre Fabre 3yo making UK debut and also makes zero appeal 16/1

Trendsetter: consistent handicapper, 4th over C&D last time out, goes on fast going, trainer employs 7lb claimer in place of 3lb one in attempt to find a bit. 33/1

Mukhayyam: 8lb higher than when winning class 4 two starts ago, got a strange ride when down the field over C&D last time (stayed alone far side). Hard to know what to expect. Mark looks beyond him. 33/1

Green Light: often highly tried by previous trainer, having first run for Ellison. Seems to prefer going on the easy side. Tailed off in this last year. 25/1

Buonarroti: managed to win his first handicap this year at the age of five, ran in this race last year and was a creditable second off 2lb lower. Fully exposed and a surprise winner if he does it. 22/1

William Hunter: only had eight turf starts, won in class 4 and 3 but found class 2 on fast a struggle last time. Trainer puts Hollie Doyle up claiming 5lbs and he'll be carrying just 7st 10lbs 25/1

Wrangler: very lightly raced 5 year old who was a massive eye catcher last time out over C&D on only second start after a two year absence. Running here off 87, beat Montaly two years ago giving weight, now 18lb better off. Trainer says he needs soft ground but he could be thrown in here. 7/1

My Short List:

I really hope to have the winner on my list in the majority of races I investigate. Included in the final analysis is my own assessment as to whether the runners are capable of winning from the mark they are running off. Again in race card order, I reckon one of these will win:

Not So Sleepy
Erik The Red
Cape Cova
William Hunter

There are a few trends that I'd apply here now. For instance, most winners of this ran in a class 2 or 3 handicap on their previous start and had won a handicap in the previous 12 months. Montaly fails on both counts and I'll pass on him. I prefer those running from marks less than 100 in here and so Cymro and Not So Sleepy who both want softer ground are eliminated for me.

Looking at the draw and the going it is likely that the middle to low numbers will be favoured; high draws have been favoured on soft & heavy going. I also looked at the winners and the majority had won a large field handicap, probably with at least 14 runners.

Wrangler may well be extremely well handicapped on 87 and could theoretically overcome the fast ground, wide draw and lack of experience in large field races but at 7/1 I'm prepared to 'take it on the chin' if he does.

Erik The Red also has a high draw and is trying the trip for the first time. I'm also not certain he wants it fast either. He too has not won in a large field, in fact a nine-runner race is the largest field he's managed to beat.

William Hunter has only had 8 starts on turf so I am inclined to forgive him for not running in any large field races. He has a nice draw in 11, will go on the ground, has won at the trip and has no weight. At around 25/1 he might be worth a small bet

Cape Cova ticks every single one of my boxes in terms of draw, age, liking the going, handicap mark and field size experience. His trainer has won this race twice from two attempts and puts blinkers on which might make a huge difference and I'm expecting him to be a major player.


This race is likely to be run either at a very strong gallop or there could be a false pace in the first half mile if Mukayyam for example is allowed to lead with no pace pressure. I tend to think though that there will be pace on with the size of the field. That will be ideal for my play on the race.

I am concerned about Wrangler as he could be on a very lenient mark. However, my concerns over the going, draw and his long lay off mean I can't really recommend a bet on him.

Therefore, despite a significant rise for a narrow win I am going to having my main bet on John Gosden's CAPE COVA who has just about everything in his favour.

I am also going to have a smaller bet at 25/1 on WILLIAM HUNTER who also has potential to rate significantly higher after only eight turf starts and has a good draw.

Advised Bets

CAPE COVA 2 points each way 7/1
WILLIAM HUNTER 0.5 points each way 25/1


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