Go to War on Town Moor with Poet

  • By: Nic Doggett
  • Last Updated: November 9 2012, 16:59 GMT

Our horse by horse guide to Saturday's Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster.

David O'Meara: Trains our fancy War Poet

Retrieve

Former Australian runner who has held his form well in this hemisphere, including winning over 12 furlongs at Newmarket in September. Only a Group One in name in which he was second in last time out in Italy, and he has a lot of weight to shoulder, however he always seems to run his race.

Songcraft

Not a great draw (22) for a horse who often races near the pace but he doesn't look badly-treated on a mark of 106, especially if the ground stays good as his best form is on a sound surface. First start in a handicap since winning a valuable one at Meydan in February.

Kirthill

Appreciated the decent pace and 12 furlongs when landing a competitive York handicap in August and was then sent off a very short price at Newbury (because of his trainer's record in that race) where he ran into trouble and then lacked the pace to recover. Return to this trip is in his favour and he looks a major player.

First Mohican

Connections had to be patient for his second start, coming two years after his debut, but both resulted in comfortable wins and the latter was quickly followed by a Nottingham romp. All three victories have come on very testing ground, but he's firmly on the upgrade and there's enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest the longer trip will be within range.

Voodoo Prince

You don't often see many of Ed Dunlop's horses with headgear but the cheek-pieces are on after a mulish-looking run at Ascot last time where he didn't seem willing early in the race. Higher mark today makes life tough (even if it's less than the handicappers original assessment after a good Listed effort previously) and yet to prove this trip will suit.

Darley Sun

Very attractive mark of 94 after running a decent race at Pontefract last month (108-rated Zuider Zee, last-year's winner of this race, just two places ahead of him). That form might be questionable, and this is a big drop in trip, but the former Cesarewitch winner should get the good ground he likes and no great surprise to see him running on strongly, especially if there is a decent early pace.

Communicator

Not been seen since finishing second to Tominator in a Listed race at Chester in early September, but has only gone up 1lb for that run and he still looks nicely-treated. As Ian Ogg states in his stats guide, Andew Balding's charge has the profile of recent winners and looks to have the good ground he needs. The York winner is also proven on long finishing straights to boot.

Blue Surf

Showed a decent turn of foot in the conditions at Newbury last month and wouldn't mind a drop of rain this weekend, as his form on good-to-soft or slower reads 2-1-1. Only start over 12 furlongs didn't really tell us much, but he is a half-brother to two hurdles winners so should stay the trip ok, and still looks on the upgrade. Interesting.

Art Scholar

Very strong traveller who hit the front on the bridle here at Doncaster last month, only to find the progressive Party Line too strong in the closing stages. Has done nothing but improve since joining new connections before the season started, but worth remembering he is yet to win at a better level than Class 4.

Crystal Gal

Steps back up to 12 furlongs for the first time since the 2010 Irish Oaks where she was beaten 38 lengths behind Snow Fairy. Has only had two starts this season, most recently over a mile at Leicester where she was a one-paced fifth behind Cochabamba. On a nice mark on her old form but impossible to make any sort of watertight case for.

Art History

The blinkers go on after a woeful run here last month, but first-time headgear had no effect when a visor was tried over hurdles in June (trained by John Ferguson at the time). Had some useful form on the flat for Mark Johnston last year, mainly on good or quicker ground, so connections will be hoping the rain stays away.

War Poet

Beaten out of sight behind Kirthill at York but better judged on his close fifth at Haydock earlier in the season. Now 1lb lower in the weights, and his record at Town Moore reads 3-2-2-1, so reason to expect a better showing this time around. Acts on any ground and interesting that connections wanted to run him in this race last season (but he didn't make the cut).

The Tiger

No real surprise that this son of Tiger Hill has come good since being stepped up in trip, and 9lb rise for his recent Catterick win gets him into this race on a decent weight. Long galloping straight should suit this big horse and any rain will suit this very progressive colt. Big chance.

Scrapper Smith

Another who disappointed at the track last time behind Party Line and has pulled hard in his last few outings, resulting in big defeats. However there were positives to be gleaned from his Chester third in September (one place behind Communicator) and he does stay this trip well enough, considering all of his wins are at shorter.

Sirvino

Handicap mark has gradually edged down following a series of defeats (last win was June 2011) but didn't run badly at the track last time and this perch of 90 looks one he can win off, being just 1lb higher than his best effort. Dependable, but may find a couple of rivals just too progressive.

Nicholascopernicus

Up 9lbs for his Goodwood romp last month but that was well-deserved, albeit in a race he was entitled to win. Loves testing ground, so may need conditions to ease slightly, and this is the biggest (and most competitive) field he has faced, but hard to think that his improvement has reached a plateau just yet.

Clayton

Market mover since the declarations were confirmed and his owner loves having winners at his local tracks. Made a fine impression on his debut at Southwell (9 length winner; well-backed) and has since gone up 9lbs in the handicap for a series of good runs in defeat. Lightly-raced and intriguing, with this race probably a long-term target, but has enough to prove for now.

Bridle Belle

Seems to have appreciated the cut in the ground of late, with wins at York and Newmarket, and 4lb rise looks fair enough on the face of it. Two modest runs at this track came as a youngster so safe to ignore those efforts and although she steps up in grade here, she cannot be ruled out as a filly in form. Trainer fancies a big run too

Samba King

Created a fine impression with success on his handicap debut at Sandown in April, but performances since have been woeful (bar one) and the handicapper is refusing to budge, only dropping him 1lb for defeats of 14 lengths and 18 lengths on his last two starts. Might be that he needs his own way out in front, and unlikely to get that here.

Hillview Boy

Handicapper giving him a chance, dropping him 9lbs since the turn of the year despite finishing in the places on three occasions. Now 7lbs lower than his last win, which was a long time ago, but he is a course winner who cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Party Line

Has the beating of several of these rivals on their clash here last month, and surprise that the handicapper has only put her up 5lbs for that clear-cut success. Handles all ground except for quick going, so has conditions in her favour and another bold bid expected once more.

Hanoverian Baron

First win for over two years came at Bath in September but has been well-held in two better races since. This mark of 86 shouldn't be beyond him, having won off 88 in the past, but he is seven now and the legs might not be as sprightly as they once were. Handles all types of ground.

Bollin Greta

Strong-staying mare who has basically won one race a season for the last four years. Comes into this race in poor form after three heavy defeats, although the handicapper isn't convinced as he has only dropped her by 2lbs. Interesting to see whether there is any support at big prices.

Summary

Younger horses have dominated this race in the last decade, with three and four year old's winning nine of the last ten renewals, and the improving quartet of Party Line, The Tiger, Nicholascopernicus and First Mohican are all likely to be popular with punters. Of those, The Tiger may find most improvement, however it's worth remembering that favourites have a woeful record in the race and there looks some great value elsewhere, most notably David O'Meara's WAR POET.

Although a year or two older than some of the more fancied runners, the five year old has a fine record at the track and his wide draw isn't a huge problem for a hold-up horse. He's only 5lbs higher than his last win and he's one who won't mind what the weather does. Elsewhere the market move for Clayton is intriguing, whilst Kirthill is reliable and still looks fairly-treated.


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