This weekend traditionally signifies the change in emphasis from flat-racing to jumps, and the November Handicap brings the curtain down on a memorable flat racing season which will be remembered for the likes of the multiple group one winning Kingman and Australia.
Meanwhile, the better jumps horses are starting to appear in earnest and Wincanton stages the high-profile Elite Hurdle.
Here are our previews and horse racing tips for both the big races:
Ten-year-trends reveal that 8 of the last 10 winners have carried less than 9-0 to victory, though 5 of them shouldered between 8-10 and 8-13. All winners have been aged between 3 and 6 with four-year-olds claiming four victories, three-year-olds three victories, five-year-old two and six-year-olds one.
Only John Gosden has trained two winners in that period, though he has won it 5 times in the last 23 years, whilst no jockey has won it more than once in the last 20 years.
The mile and a half contest is often run on soft ground, and this year looks like being no different with plenty of rain forecast and the ground currently good-to-soft.
Mount Logan, Low Key, Open Eagle and Old Town Boy are currently jostling for favouritism, but Mount Logan will have to carry in excess of 9-0 and isn’t proven on the forecast ground. The other three should have no issues with the ground but Low Key is a seven-year-old. The remaining two have very different profiles with Old Town Boy a progressive three-year old, whilst five-year-old Open Eagle has dropped in the weights over the last 12 months and looks primed for a big run for his shrewd trainer David O’Meara, who knows how to prepare his horses perfectly for the big day.
2 points each-way Open Eagle @ 12/1
Four of the last 5 winners have carried 11-10 to victory, but these have been the classy trio of Celestial Halo (twice), Zarkandar and Melodic Rendevous.
Only former Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby is set to carry that weight this time around but, at the age of 9, he’s two years older than any of the last 10 winners. His trainer Harry Fry has been in excellent form this week though and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he outclassed his rivals.
Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls has saddled three of the last five winners and is targeting the race with likely warm favourite Irving, who was impressive on numerous occasions last season before flopping at the Cheltenham Festival. That flop kept his handicap mark down to a very workable 148 though, and it’s noteworthy that he’s done all his winning on right-handed tracks.
6 points Irving @ 6/4