- Stay on weather watch for ante-post bets
- Haldon Gold Cup the feature on Friday
- Saturday's November Handicap set to be run on heavy ground
- Tony Calvin has a 25/1 each-way tip on the Sportsbook
A very wet week is in store across the country it seems, so bear that in mind when punting ante-post.
Rain is vitally needed at the jumps courses at Exeter and Wincanton, which were on the firm side on Monday morning - the Haldon Gold Cup meeting is live on ITV on Friday this year, which surprised me - while Aintree and Doncaster promise to be on the soft and heavy side respectively on Saturday if they get the forecast wet stuff.
I am going to focus on Doncaster's November Handicap in this piece, though a second ante-post piece may be forthcoming later this week.
Friday feature has potential to cut up
A quick word on Friday's Haldon Gold Cup before then, though.
We have 10 entries in the race but it is no surprise that the Betfair Sportsbook are only betting to two places as, for all it is a 47k-to-the-winner pot, I imagine we will looking at less than eight runners on the day.
And especially so if they don't get as much rain as was forecast on Monday morning (the main site I use had up to 26mm arriving through the week).
It appears that Dolos is Paul Nicholls' most likely runner, as Greaneteen's presence is dependent on the ground - they have the option of the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham next week for him - and it appears the current plan is for Il Ridoto is to go straight to the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Plans do change, though.
Factor in Gumball ran at Ascot on Saturday, and Numitor is in at Newbury on Thursday, and the race could cut up a touch.
Roll on that rain, though.
On To Doncaster in search of Victory
Anyway, on to Doncaster's November Handicap. I think we are pretty safe in assuming the ground will be on the heavy side here, even if the weather in the latter part of the week looks okay (12mm is due Monday to Wednesday, with the ground currently soft).
I always thought the November Handicap (15:15 on Saturday) used to be an early closer but I am told I am mistaken (I usually am) and we got first sight of the runners on Monday afternoon.
We have 30 five-day entries - and we could have a maximum field of 23 on Saturday - but one stood out for me; On To Victory at 25s.
I appreciate I have a fair bit of history with the horse, who won this race in 2020 - by 1 ¾ lengths in the soft off a 7lb higher mark than this (last year's victor Farhan is in here off an 11lb higher level) - but surely everything is set fair for a big run for him here and it is not just a case of rose-tinted spectacles.
I acknowledge he has not been in the best of form of late, and he is some way detached from the level that saw him finish a 1 ½ length second, off levels, to subsequent Group 1 winner Hukum on soft ground at Goodwood in May 2021.
But he was rated 104 then, is now down to a mark of just 92, and there was a lot more promise in his run at Goodwood early in October, his first run for 99 days.
That mark of 92 is the lowest he has raced off since winning by 8 lengths off 87 in June 2017.
Okay, he finished sixth of eight to stablemate Tritonic (also in here) and was beaten 6 lengths, but he travelled well on the inside there for a lot of the race - and the far rail may not have been the place to be that day - and he got dropped 2lb for that outing after a three-month absence. He was not knocked out around that day, either.
Veteran has chance of landing emotional wim
I appreciate he is joint oldest in the line-up as an 8yo and the fact we have barely seen him this year hints at an issue or two but I imagine the stable would have been using that last run as a stepping stone to this race - he was an easy to back 28/1 poke there and went off at 36.87 at Betfair SP - and 1m4f in deep ground is what he wants.
It would be an emotional win for the stable and connections after the recent death of syndicate manager Henry Ponsonby and I see David Probert, who sat on him for the first time at Goodwood in what was hopefully a sighter - is already jocked up, though I admit these are far from infallible in identifying definite runners.
There are a lot of horses in here with more convincing recent profiles, most obviously recent course scorer Israr, who is very much the one to beat in here off just a 7lb higher mark, but I like On To Victory's chances at the price.
I am happy to bet each way at the price. 20/1 would be my cut-off point for now.