Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Doncaster on Saturday. View selections below.
ORDER LEGEND (3.35) can carry the royal colours to a popular success in the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster. Roger Charlton has bitten the bullet and stepped the Queen’s lightly-raced gelding up to 12 furlongs. Given his ability to handle testing conditions, a chance is taken on his stamina lasting out. They don’t take prisoners in this race but there was no sign of Border Legend stopping when scoring over 10 furlongs at Nottingham last month. Given John Gosden’s excellent record in this event, market rival Lahaag must go on the shortlist, having beaten Border Legend narrowly last October. However, my selection is 11lb better off now, which should be enough to turn the tables.
JACK DEXTER (2.25) brings the curtain down on his excellent 2013 campaign by contesting the Wentworth Stakes, a Listed contest over six furlongs. Jack flopped in this race 12 months ago but deep underfoot conditions this weekend will be much more to his liking. He is giving weight to all but one of his 18 rivals which makes life difficult. His Ayr Gold Cup conqueror Highland Colori remains in the form of his life and fairly trounced his rivals when making all to win a Conditions race on Town Moor a fortnight ago. Andrew Balding’s sprinter receives 3lb from Jack Dexter, compared to 11lb at Ayr.
Jack Dexter produced his best run of the year in the Champions’ Sprint at Ascot when just denied by Slade Power but meets two horses from that race on worse terms. Trailblazing Hoof It (fourth) and Mass Rally (sixth) are both in receipt of 6lb this time round which has to bring them closer. Last year’s winner, Eton Rifles, is another worthy opponent and is a real end-of-season sprinter. He was edged out by Steps on his belated seasonal debut at Ascot last month and also finished fourth to Sirius Prospect in this event in 2011.
Big fields could mean big trouble for punters but LEVITATE (1.50) looks sure to go close in the Betfred Handicap over seven furlongs. The Lincoln winner ideally could have done with an extra furlong, but John Quinn’s gelding acquitted himself well over this trip on Champions’ Day at Ascot, running into fourth in a field of 27 strung right across the track. Oisin Murphy, who rode Levitate to score readily at Ayr’s Western meeting in September, is back in the saddle.
The Betfred Fillies’ Listed Stakes over 10 furlongs is another crackerjack and MAKING EYES (3.00) can defy her penalty for winning a Listed race at Newcastle in June when one of her main rivals here, Prussian, finished well in arrears. Hugo Palmer’s mare ran a stormer behind classy Grandeur and Quick Wit in September and handles soft ground. The Gosden/Buick team are represented by Cushion, a good second to Sound Hearts at Nottingham.
The concluding Betfred Apprentices’ contest over seven furlongs has attracted another monster field but it may pay to concentrate on two in-form horses, PICENO (4.05), and Pashan Garh. Piceno had three lengths to spare over Pashan Garh when they clashed at Newmarket last Saturday, making virtually all the running from a favourable draw. Pashan Garh is weighted to get closer and is 5lb lower than 12 months ago when running a creditable fourth. Piceno won with a good deal of authority, however, and missed an easier assignment at Southwell earlier this week to wait for this bigger prize.
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