The man making all the headlines this past week is young jockey Harry Cobden who has been given the huge and fortunate task of being named number one jockey to legendary chaser Cue Card. If that fills the young man with drive and determination as opposed to fear and nerves then expect a great season from the rider and he’s been handed a decent mount here at Wincanton. On Demand is the only course winner lining up and unlike half of his rivals will be fit from a seasonal race.
Despite not winning this season Secret Door looks to be the one to be on. A return to the course saw him finish a credible third last time out and a drop in trip looks a good shout by trainer Harry Fry. Previous wins over the likes of the well touted Poppy Kay looks like brilliant form and with that in mind is taken to put in a good display this afternoon.
SECRET DOOR (E/W)
The first of three visits to Doncaster on ITV Racing this afternoon and we’re greeted with a tasty looking listed sprint handicap where three year old Sir Dancealot is the red hot favourite. He was very impressive last time out when winning here at Donny but he drops in trip, has better opponents and isn’t guaranteed to enjoy the soft ground so, although he’s likely to be in the mix come the winning post, is worth taking on with a horse at a bigger price.
Another runner who’s short enough in the betting is Danzeno but once again I’m not overly convinced he wants the ground to be too wet either.
One runner that absolutely relishes underfoot conditions is old boy Maarek who rolled back the years to win a race in his native Ireland last time but this looks far more competitive than the race he won.
The one that gets the nod ticks a few boxes. Stake Acclaim has won here at Doncaster previously, has won on soft ground and has also won over todays trip. With bookmakers currently offering prices as big as 16/1 he looks great value to put in a bold bid.
STAKE ACCLAIM (E/W)
Sadly only three horses line up for this Grade 2 Novices Chase and with that in mind there’s not much in the way of value. Although it’s the obvious choice it’s the obvious choice for a reason as the likely victor looks set to be Modus. That’s not to discredit his opposition too readily as both represent top stables but the class horse in the field should make it consecutive victories as Paul Nicholls will find his runner in the winners enclosure.
A pretty lightly raced bunch awaits in another Listed race from Doncaster where the much talked about Time Chaser is set to run. This three year old was on the tip of punters tongues when going off as the even money favourite in her last race but sadly disappointed. The big question is wether or not the talk of her future success was premature or wether that race was just a blip? Unfortunately I’m going to be a party pooper and side with the latter. In her four race career although she claimed victory in her first three races it wasn’t against much in terms of opposition and didn’t have too many excuses for her loss. The only thing I’d possibly say in her defence is that she possibly didn’t act on heavy ground but with the weather set to be a bit miserable at Doncaster I can’t see her getting ground that’s much better today.
Indulged has finished behind Vintage Folly and Empress Ali in previous encounters but I’m hoping she can reverse that form here. Trainer James Fanshawe has his yard doing very well at the moment and currently holds a 23% strike rate with his runners. The horse returns to the course and distance of her most recent success (which was on very soft ground) and this consistent filly can find her head back in front once again.
15:00 WINCANTON - (BET OF THE DAY)
A decent looking renewal of this listed contest where Lough Derg Spirit looks likely to go off as favourite. With three wins from six starts he deserves respect but victories in a point to point, a low level novice hurdle and a five runner contest at Musselburgh doesn’t read like the most impressive form to boot. Talk from the Henderson camp is that he’s come on leaps and bounds but without a run since April this year a lot will have to be taken on trust and that doesn’t sit too well with me as a punter.
I would much rather side with the Paul Nicholls trained Zubayr who, unlike his rivals, has been very busy over the summer months with a flat racing campaign. A win and two seconds in three flat starts shows the horses level of ability and he’ll be much fitter than his opposition. Although he’s not a prolific winner his form looks rock solid with very good efforts in big runner handicaps at Haydock, Ayr and Aintree at the end of last season. The five year old can go well fresh and looks a great shout to overturn the favourite.
ZUBAYR (WIN) - NAP
With a total of twenty three runners entered in to this years November Handicap it’s a head scratcher to say the least. The favourite Royal Line looks a very classy runner but finishing third in a three horse race left many punters wondering what on earth happened. The likelihood is it was an off day and I feel normal service should resume and a much improved effort is likely from the youngster. That being said from a punting perspective I just can’t bring myself to back a favourite in a race with so many runners and with value the order of the day I’ve pinpointed two worth backing.
The only other three year old in the race is Syphax. Tipped by many for bigger and better things when purchased by Godolphin as a two year old he’s not lived up to those expectations but a glimmer of hope emerged when he finished second at York previously. The key may be the further the better and a step up to 1m4f may be the key to unlocking his potential. He acted on the all-weather which can be an indicator that he won’t be too inconvenienced by soft ground and is worth a punt.
The other horse that looks a decent bet, especially at his current 40/1 price is Fun Mac. It seems like he’s been around for ages but is in fact just six years old. He’s been tackling marathon trips for the past few seasons and hasn’t raced over today’s trip since October 2014. It may surprise some punters however that his record over today’s distance is actually pretty good with a victory and two seconds to his name. He isn’t the classiest runner but if the rain continues to fall and it turns it in to a gruelling test don’t be too surprised to see him passing beaten horses when his opposition is floundering.
SYPHAX (E/W), FUN MAC (E/W)
Paul Nicholls looks to be throwing everything he has at this race by saddling three of the more fancied runners in the form of Present Man, Southfield Theatre and Mr Mix. The trainer has a great record in the race but I’m hoping this years renewal isn’t his for the taking as I’m siding with top weight Theatre Guide. Jockey Paddy Brennan hasn’t had the best of weeks losing the ride on Cue Card but I’m hoping a win here will give him something to smile about. With a 100% record at Wincanton the Colin Tizzard trained ten year old is dangerous at this venue. Although he has a high weight to carry it’s not miles away from the weight he’s carried to victory previously and although there’s a question mark about his fitness he’s worth backing at a decent each way price.
THEATRE GUIDE (E/W)