It feels slightly disconcerting to be writing about flat racing one-third of the way through November. But the battle royal for the jockeys’ championship is keeping the season alive.
Just one week ago Jamie Spencer looked home and hosed. But Seb Sanders has struck back. He rode a double at Wolverhampton on Thursday night to tie the contest. The fact they joined battle at this least glamorous of venues speaks volumes for the commitment of both men.
On Saturday they clash in the last hurrah of the season, the Totesport.com November Handicap at Doncaster. Sanders rides 25/1 outsider John Terry while Spencer has an absolutely plum ride on favourite Pippa Greene.
In a match bet Spencer would be long odds on. But there are plenty of other horses in the race with a chance. The one that catches the eye is 12/1 shot Tropical Strait who has been running impressively on the all weather circuit but gets into this with a featherweight and a decent draw.
Wincanton has some top class national hunt racing. The feature is the Badger Ales Trophy, which sees some decent chasers making their seasonal bow. Alderburn is the class act in the race but looks high enough in the handicap. The assessor has taken no chances, upping him 12 pounds for his last win.
Abragante is a fascinating runner. He is also being aimed at the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham next week. That race closes early so, if he wins here, he gets in on the same weight. The ever canny Pipe team clearly have their eyes on a big autumn double.
In the Totescoop6 Elite Hurdle, Poquelin has a good chance. This imposing black horse won a decent novice hurdle at Ayr on his final outing last term, leaving Pouvoir, who re-opposes, ten lengths in arrears.
2:50 Wincanton: Poquelin (win)
3:10 Doncaster: Tropical Strait (each-way)
3:25 Wincanton: Abragante (win)