Even though the season supposedly came to an end at Ascot a few weeks ago, Doncaster stages the final turf Flat meeting of 2017 tomorrow where the November Handicap (3.15pm) is the feature contest.
A maximum field of 23 will line up for the ultra-competitive 1m4f handicap, where conditions look sure to be on the soft side, even with no rain forecast over the next 24 hours.
All week my eyes have been drawn to ROYAL LINE at the foot of the weights, and John Gosden’s lightly-raced three-year-old looks the call at 8/1 with 188BET.
Gosden, who is looking to land this prize for a record sixth time, can cap a remarkable season by landing the last major handicap with a colt who only made his racecourse debut two months ago.
Royal Line carries the famous old maroon and white colours of Sheikh Mohammed and began his racing career with effortless wins at both Windsor and Haydock.
Those two performances were followed by a slightly disappointing show when beaten at odds-on at Newbury last month.
He was last of the three runners that day, but may have been stretched by the monster 1m 5½f trip.
The drop back in distance will be far more suitable and he is proven on rain-softened ground.
If there is one horse in the line-up who has the potential to be far better than its current handicap mark, it has to be the 96-rated son of Dubawi.
Another plus has to be the fact Gosden has plundered this pot three times in the past with three-year-olds, suggesting it’s a race he targets with such unexposed types.
If the ground dries out, then I expect Alan King’s Top Tug to go well.
He isn’t particularly well-handicapped, but he stays and comes from a stable in great form.
Saunter is another one to keep on-side, but both are pretty short in the betting and I prefer to take an each-way chance on SIR CHAUVELIN instead at what looks a massive 25/1.
He was well beaten in this race 12 months ago on ground that would have been too fast, and conditions will be much more to his liking tomorrow.
This trip will also suit far better than the nine furlongs of the Cambridgeshire last time and he has slipped down to a competitive mark.
The rest of the card looks pretty trappy, but I cannot resist a few quid each-way on David Elsworth’s SPECULATIVE BID off topweight in the seven furlong handicap (1.35pm).
The six-year-old has only raced twice since August 2015 and both of those runs came at Ascot last month.
After running an eye-catching seventh behind Accidental Agent over this trip in the Challenge Cup first time-up, he was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions Day behind Lord Glitters.
Connections obviously expected a monster performance that day, but he didn’t seem to quite get home over a mile.
The handicapper has dropped him 3lbs for those exertions and the return to seven furlongs is another bonus.
Looking at the dangers and the likes of Get Knotted and Muntadab warrant plenty of respect, but may find an in-form Speculative Bid too hot to handle.
POINTERS - TOMORROW
Speculative Bid e/w 1.35pm Doncaster
Royal Line e/w 3.15pm Doncaster
Sir Chauvelin e/w 3.15pm Doncaster