Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card and previews Saturday’s action with five tips at Doncaster, Sandown and Wincanton.
We say goodbye to the 2012 flat season this weekend and thank goodness for Frankel as it has been a pretty ordinary year symbolised by the poor showing of the British raiders in the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita and the Melbourne Cup down under in the last week.
Jockey Richard Hughes will be crowned Champion jockey for the first time and his seven winners at Windsor was my personal highlight; the November Handicap is the Doncaster highlight and the vote goes to Communicator 2.35 (14/1 at BetVictor) each way for Andrew Balding; the ground is currently good to soft and any further rain would be a positive for this son of Motivator. Jimmy Fortune was jocked up at the five-day stage but David Probert takes over which is not ideal given he has never ridden the gelding but he has a decent draw and can reward each way support.
The Cecil team won’t hear of defeat for First Mohican but at 7/2 he is surely too short despite the fact that he remains unbeaten in three starts; his draw in stall 21 is hardly ideal although they may well come up the centre of the home straight rather than cling to the far rail.
Godolphin are finishing the season in good form and I have always had a soft spot for Sajjhaa (2.00) and at her best she is a class apart from her rivals; she is entitled to come on for her run in a Group 1 in Italy last time her first in five months and Mikael Barzelona takes the mount for the first time.
Zarkandar, who will surely get further this season, carries top-weight for Paul Nicholls in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton but I am sweet on the chances of stablemte Prospect Wells (2.50) who, on more than one occasion last term, suggested that his current handicap mark was not the full extent of his ability. Nicholls saddles three of the seven runners and I hope it is significant that Ruby Walsh rides the selection who might have too much pace for his rivals around this tight track.
Wincanton’s feature is the Badger Beer Chase and Michel Le Bon is likely to go off a warm order for the Nicholls’ team but I am not entirely convinced by his profile especially after disappointing at Kempton when a very well backed favourite in the Racing Post Chase back in February. My two against the field are Zarrafakt and the selection Mic’s Delight (3.25) who can go well fresh, represents a yard amongst the winners already this week and fairly treated on his best hurdle form. Nicholls’ has saddled three of the last four winners and Michel Le Bon is a worthy favourite but there is every chance he will go off a very short price and he might be better going left-handed.
At Sandown I was disappointed with the reappearance of Graduation Night (3.35) at Cheltenham and expect a better run with the excellent Tom O’Brien taking over from a conditional tomorrow; the forecast rain at the Esher track shouldn’t be a problem and remains open to further improvement.