Top Tug

Spotlight on the 2017 November Handicap

The November Handicap at Doncaster essentially signals the end of the flat season for another year. The race is run over a distance of one mile and four furlongs and is the last big scheduled handicap race of the season.

The race was originally called the Manchester November Handicap when it was run at New Barns. When the Manchester track was closed in 1963 the race moved to its current home at Doncaster from 1964 onwards.

Here are some trends and statistics based on the last ten years:

 

Age (Winners-Placed-Runners)

3-y-o: 2-6-41

4-y-o: 3-14-77

5-y-o: 3-4-46

6-y-o+: 2-6-56  

Only two horses over the age of five have won this race in the last twenty years.

 

Weight

9st 7lbs+:0-1-14

9st–9st 6lb: 2-6-42

8st 7lb-8st 13lb: 7-12-86

8st-8st 6lb: 1-7-65

7st-7lb 13lb: 0-4-13

Eight of the last ten winners carried between 8st 10lbs and 9st 5lb.

 

Effect of the draw

Stall 10 or lower: 1-13-90

Stall 11 or higher: 8-14-112

It is highly significant that horses drawn higher than stall 17 have won five times in recent years when the going has been soft/heavy.

 

Official Ratings

Nine of the last ten winners have been officially rated 93-99.

 

Recent Form

Ten out of the last ten winners last had a run between ten and sixty days ago. That would be a negative trend for Storm King and Niblawi.

Seven out the last ten winners either ran at Doncaster or Newmarket last time out

Nine out of the last ten winners had either won or placed on one or both of their last two starts.

 

Trainer Form

Trainers who have won the race in recent years with runners are John Gosden and Joseph Tuite.

 

Starting Price

A total mixed bag over the last ten years but the race is somewhat of a graveyard for favourites. Only one favourite has won the race in the last twenty years.

 

Runner-by-runner guide:

Master The World

Won the Betfred Mile back in August in soft going but has been well beaten in several runs since. Has to concede weight all round.

 

Top Tug

Alan King has been doing well in races of this nature on the flat this season and this dual purpose performer looks to have a solid each-way chance.

 

Cohesion

Came second in a maiden hurdle at Plumpton last week and before that ran on the flat on Chantilly. She looks to be in the handicappers grip here.

 

Fun Mac

Third in the Chester Cup and also won a race in France this season. Ran very poorly in the Doncaster Cup and has plenty to prove now.

888sport

Dance The Dream

She has been in great form lately but will have to overcome being drawn in stall 23. Tyler Saunders takes off a valuable 7lbs.

 

Minotaur

A French J.P McManus import who had his debut run in England at Aintree. Showed some promise at Leicester but hard to gauge how good he is on the flat really.

 

Eddystone Rock

Won at York in August but was well beaten in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot. Stays this trip but is not an obvious choice.

 

Wild Hacked

Has not been seen since September but was in decent form before his break. Botti may just have him spot on for this.

 

Chelsea Lad

Beaten favourite last time out at York behind Dark Red. Gets assistance in the saddle on this occasion from Josephine Gordon.

 

Sir Chauvelin

Ran poorly in the Cambridgeshire last time out and will need some luck from his stall position to figure.

 

Saunter

Jim Crowley makes his way back from Meydan to ride this horse for Ian Williams. The going will be ideal and he looks to have a great chance.

 

Azari

Appears to save his best runs for Haydock Park and has looked pretty ordinary in his last two runs.

 

Mirsaale

Has been kept on the go for the last few weeks with runs both on the flat and over jumps. He wouldn’t be a forlorn hope if the going came up soft.

 

Syphax

Godolphin won this race last year and on Saturday they look towards Kevin Ryan to bring the spoils home for them. The colt been knocking on the door a few times this season.

 

Storm King

Three wins this season but has to overcome the numbers of days off the track hoodoo which will not be easy.

 

Towerlands Park

A promising third place on his return from an eleven month absence needs to be built open. The stable are very shrewd and they should have him in tip-top shape.

 

Gawdawpalin

Doesn’t have the best of draws and ran far too keenly last time out. Hard to see him reversing the form with Dance The Dream and Top Tug.

 

Royal Line

He has been the ante-post favourite for some time now and it is easy to see why. Gosden often targets this race and he has jocked up William Buick to bring him home.

 

Niblawi

Has a 60 days absence to overcome and Mulholland’s horses are struggling to get competitive under either code at the moment.

 

Euchen Glen

A course and distance winner who will need to bounce back from a below-par run in the Cesarewitch.  Has a decent weight if he can make the most of it.

 

Sepal

She was in rude health during the summer months, notching up a hat-trick. The feeling is that those exertions and the handicapper have caught up with her this season.

 

Machine Learner

The trainer of this horse, Joseph Tuite, won this race with Litigant in 2015 and he has another good chance with this four-year-old. Oisin Murphy is a positive jockey booking.

 

Al Destoor

Won easily at Chester in June and has been running some really consistent races, however they have all been in lesser company than this.

 

Conclusion

If conditions remain fairly dry then Alan King’s Top Tug must be worth a punt.

The six-year-old has an official rating of 106 and is a guaranteed stayer. He will be suited by the course at Doncaster.

Saunter is also of interest and it can pay to be doubled-handed with your selections in this race.