The flat season officially ends on Saturday but already the jumpers, for the worst of reasons, have grabbed the public’s attention. The untimely death of triple Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Best Mate is simply tragic. Leave it to the sophists and anoraks to debate whether he was a latter day Arkle. Matey had class, but more importantly he had charisma. He was everyone’s Best Mate. R.I.P.

It is fitting that the jumps season gets into top gear this weekend in tribute to a dearly departed champion. At Down Royal Beef Or Salmon, for many years the main pretender to Best Mate’s crown until Kicking King burst onto the scene, makes his seasonal bow in the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase. With a small field and plenty of give underfoot Beef Or Salmon has tailor-made conditions.

Jumping stars of the future cross swords in the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap over three miles at Wincanton. Whichever horse wins today will likely be a warm order for the Hennessy Gold Cup at the end of the month with three recent winners Coome Hill, Teeton Mill and King’s Road using today’s race as their prep.

Red Devil Robert from the local yard of Paul Nicholls has a favourites chance and will need to win this to earn the hype he has generated. But it is worth keeping a close eye on Martin Pipe’s runners in the betting market.

The last (surely overdue) gasp of the flat season is the totesport November Handicap at Doncaster. This contest is wide open with all five previous winners starting at double figure odds. Obvious picks like Ebtikaar and Group Captain may be worth avoiding. At odds of around 14/1 Sirce may prove each-way value and will certainly relish the soft ground.


2:40 Down Royal: Beef Or Salmon (win)

3:15 Wincanton: Red Devil Robert (win)

3:35 Doncaster: Sirce (each-way)

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