Doncaster’s November Handicap is the last meaningful race of the flat calendar and after another fantastic year over the flats.
After another historic year, Sir Henry Cecil will be hoping to end his season on a high and has a great chance in doing so with favourite First Mohican (9/2).
The very talented but very under-run First Mohican is unbeaten in his career and has won his two previous races this season.
Cecil’s 4-year-old has been used as a galloping partner for the great Frankel and is highly regarded throughout the yard.
But it is a case of what could of been rather than what has been for First Mohican with him potentially of been a Derby prospect.
However the November Handicap is a notorious graveyard for favourites and has First Mohican proven enough to suggest that he is likely to amend that trend? I think probably not although form against Art Scholar and others suggests he is deserved of favouritism.
Clayton has been well backed from 20/1 to 8s over the week and is very well handicapped getting 11lbs off the favourite.
More horses have won this race from top weight than favourites have and it is very easy to overlook the best horse in the race which in this case is Retrieve (20/1).
All eyes in the National Hunt calendar move to Wincanton for this weekend’s Elite Hurdle and Badger Ales Trophy.
Trainer Paul Nicholls takes a talented group to the meeting and holds the top two in the betting for the Elite Hurdle and the favourite in the Badger Ales trophy.
But it is the return of the 2010 Hennessey winner Diamond Harry which will have fans of the jumps excited.
Since that win two years ago Diamond Harry had a lengthy lay off but failed to bring his A-game in any races last year and if the betting is anything to go by, he is unlikely to do so again.
But it is hard to discard that brilliant Hennessey win and if he comes back this season even a shadow of that horse, he would be hard to oppose.
He is top weight 11-12 but is probably nearly a stone to the good from what he would have been after his Newbury win.
Paul Nicholls’ Michel Le Bon returned to winning ways at Cheltenham last year after he himself had a lengthy lay off but at 4/1 favourite, offers little value.
There has been lots of money for Zarrafakt backed into 5/1 and he runs well fresh.
Exciting hurdler Zarkandar returns to the track this weekend as he claims top weight in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
The promising 5-year-old had a delayed start to last season, but won on his reappearance at Newbury before finishing 5th in the Champion Hurdle.
It is hard to work out where the 2011 Triumph hurdler is at the moment. His sole victory last year was remembered more for the Darlan fall rather than Zarkandar’s victory.
No one will know whether he would have still gone on to win that race but his form afterwards is less than impressive falling in his race at Aintree after Cheltenham.
However, he is still most definitely the classiest horse in the field this weekend but his weight is a concern.
Zarkandar (9/4) is rated 163 and is giving away nearly a stone to his closest rival and stable mate Prospect Wells.
What is interesting is jockey Ruby Walsh has chosen to take the ride of Prospect Wells (5/2). You would think that Walsh would have got the pick of the Paul Nicholls duo.