Clayton set for November reign
Ben Linfoot seeks out the value from the November Handicap at Doncaster and the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton.
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It's 13 years since Guy Reed won the Betfred November Handicap with his homebred Flossy who won the race as a three-year-old back in 1999.
Ten years later her daughter Ella, a five-year-old, went close to matching the feats of her dam when third of 23 in the same race.
And this year the owner-breeder's pink, black and yellow silks are due to be carried by CLAYTON, a lightly-raced three-year-old who has an exciting profile relative to this contest.
Three-year-olds, unsurprisingly considering the time of year, traditionally have a good record in the Doncaster race.
Since 1980 there have been 17 members of the Classic generation that have prevailed on Town Moor in this race and all five of that age-group that go in this renewal have claims.
However, none are as convincing as those of Clayton who looks to have been trained to perfection by Kevin Ryan in time for the last big handicap of this year's Flat season.
His hooves didn't gallop on a racecourse until March of this year when he won a Southwell maiden by nine lengths, more than a hint of the ability he potentially has in his locker.
Since then he hasn't won a race, but he has progressed from a rating of 85 to 94 in four runs in handicaps, just creeping into the November Handicap off a lowly-weight of 8-2.
In May he split some very good horses when third behind Expense Claim and Hajras (in front of Rewarded and Thomas Chippendale) in a hot Newbury handicap.
Since then he went very close to winning at Musselburgh on his first and only effort over 12 furlongs and as that was in June, he must've been put away with this race in mind.
On his return, over 10 furlongs at Newmarket in October, he was keen and slightly outpaced before keeping on for sixth - an eyecatching and perfect prep for Doncaster.
Jimmy Quinn, who rode Ella into third in 2009, takes the ride and with the ground currently Good, Good to Soft in places any overnight rain will not inconvenience this son of Peintre Celebre.
Massively unexposed, this test will be right up his street and any double-figure prices remaining should be snapped up.
Unfortunately, the 16/1 available earlier in the week has long gone, but the weight of money for him in the last few days is another positive and I'm of the opinion he's still very much a value bet at 10s.
I usually split stakes in these big-field handicaps but he's the only one I'm interested in so we'll double up on him and look to the National Hunt sphere for another wager.
Over at Wincanton I want to be with Tom George's BALLYALLIA MAN in the Badger Ales Trophy given he's available at 14/1.
George's stable is in fine form and this horse looks set to relish the step up in trip judging by his victory at Market Rasen in April where he rallied to win over 2m4f.
His reappearance run in a novice hurdle at Chepstow blew the cobwebs away and he was unlucky not to finish closer that day after being hampered by a loose horse.
He faces some big names at Wincanton but they come with big weights and this lesser-known son of Flemensfirth, with his light burden, could surprise them all.