Betfred November Handicap | 1m4f | 3yo+ | ITV4/ATR
John Gosden has an excellent record in this last big handicap of the Flat season, having won it with Zuider Zee (2011), Charm School (2009), Sabadilla (1997), Turgenev (1992) and Hieroglyphic (1991).
He appears to have an excellent chance of adding another to his tally via the lightly raced Royal Line, ante-post favourite for the Betfred-backed race.
William Buick’s mount, who will carry the famous maroon and white colours that Sheikh Mohammed has passed down to his daughter Sheikha Al Jalila, has raced exclusively on easy ground during his career, winning a Windsor maiden and Haydock handicap prior to finishing last of three at Newbury.
Despite being a beaten 10-11 favourite that day, he wasn’t disgraced and it would be no surprise to see him bounce back under a rider who is likely to still be buzzing after his Breeders’ Cup triumph last weekend.
Another who has been well backed this week is the Ian Williams-trained Saunter, an encouraging second on his first start for the stable at Newmarket in September.
Few dual-purpose trainers are more adept at successfully laying a horse out for a big handicap, and this four-year-old, who acts well with plenty of give underfoot, appears to have been carefully prepared for this £70,000 feature.
Owner Tony Bloom has made the headlines on recent Saturdays with the victories of Withhold in the Cesarewitch and Librisa Breeze in Ascot’s Group 1 British Champions Sprint.
He is represented by the Neil Mulholland-trained Niblawi, whose form in competitive Ascot handicaps during the summer suggests he isn’t without a chance. Apprentice Jack Osborn takes a valuable 7lb off.
What they say
Alan King, trainer of Top Tug
We shelved plans to go back hurdling as he's kept improving on the Flat and is now off a career-high mark of 106. He’s done us proud in big handicaps in the summer, winning at Goodwood, then finishing fourth from an unfavourable draw at Royal Ascot. We think this race will suit him, with the long Doncaster straight ideal.
David Bridgwater, trainer of Cohesion
He loves soft ground, and won on it in France. He ran a brilliant race in a Group 3 at Chantilly on ground too quick for him, and he must have a squeak. I’d have fancied him if he’d run in the Ebor and I’m hopeful he’ll finish in the first six.
Marcus Tregoning, trainer of Dance The Dream
She ran very well to win at Leicester last time. This is a much stiffer task, but she’s in good order and Tyler Saunders, who won on her that day, takes 7lb off.
Marco Botti, trainer of Wild Hacked
It looks like he’s finally going to get his ground after a couple of runs on ground too quick for him. We started him off early in the year but he still seems in good order and has been working well. It’s a competitive handicap but he does have a decent draw and wouldn’t be without a shout. He's rated 6lb lower on turf, which is a bonus. He's won on turf and his Newbury form is working out well.
Tom Dascombe, trainer of Azari
He’s done very well for us. He's drawn wide but hopefully that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as he's a hold-up horse.
Adam Ryan, assistant to Kevin Ryan, trainer of Syphax
He bounced back to form at York last time, where the step back up in trip suited him. It’s a new trip here but he should appreciate it. He looks fantastic and should be in the mix.
Michael Bell, trainer of Towerlands Park
He's been in very good form since his run at Newbury last month. The November Handicap has been the plan for a while. He should run very well.
Sylvester Kirk, trainer of Gawdawpalin
He’s in great form and the ground should suit. It looks a terrible draw, but he doesn’t have a lot of weight to carry and Kieran [O’Neill] has won on him before.
Neil Mulholland, trainer of Niblawi
He likes soft ground and ran very well in handicaps at Ascot over the summer. I’m happy with him.
Joe Tuite, trainer of Machine Learner
I was very disappointed with his last run at Goodwood. Prior to that he'd run an exceptionally good race at Leopardstown to finish second in a field of 20. I’m very happy with the horse and am hoping for a good run.