November's jumps action strikes a familiar note with the Charlie Hall Chase on the 3rd of the month ushering in the start of the National Hunt season proper.
It is about the time the jumps took centre stage, and at least the Flat season will almost be out the door come November despite trying to overstay its welcome with the increasingly downbeat Breeders' Cup series.
Ascot also stages a cracking card on November 3 with the United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase serving as the tastiest morsel on a tempting card. Watch out too for the Emma Lavelle-trained Claret Cloak in the 2m handicap hurdle at Ascot.
Ms Lavelle's horses don't often find much in the finish which is always a drawback but she landed this race with Tocca Ferro a couple of years back and is bidding to do the same with the talented Claret Cloak.
The following week sees the Haldon Gold Cup saunter onto the stage on November 6, and there is sure to be a classy line-up for this Graded event. I'd like to see Cue Card start his season off with a win and let's hope Colin Tizzard has him ready to fully express his talents. Philip Hobbs squeezed no sort of tune last term out of Captain Chris and Wishfull Thinking, who both went backwards and will be seeking rehabilitation in 2012/13. This might be their starting point.
Doncaster's November Handicap on 10th of the month thankfully brings the curtain down on the Flat, and this race gets harder and harder to work out with each passing year.
Perhaps the admirably consistent Nicholascopernicus can land this prize for rookie handler Ed Walker while over at Wincanton Fingal Bay should land the Rising Stars Novices' Chase and whatever Paul Nicholls sends out for the Badger Ales Trophy is worth close inspection.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup on November 17 is the highlight of Cheltenham's wonderful three-day Open Meeting. Traditionally the winner of this valuable prize is a young horse, enjoying its second season over fences that has won or preferably been placed at the previous Cheltenham Festival.
Alas the current favourite Grand Crus fails to fit that bill after running a wretched race in the RSA Chase in March. Talented on his day, I doubt whether he will have the stamina for a Gold Cup and the jury is out on just how he will fare this season after flattering to deceive last time around.
On November 18 Darlan could be the one to set the Sunday alight with a win in the Racing Post Hurdle while the immensely exciting Sprinter Sacre could return to action in the Graded 2m chase on Sunday's card.
The following Saturday, November 24, sees the Betfair Chase upping the jumps ante at Haydock and Grand Crus is a possible for that race too, and am I the only one to find connections' unwillingness to say where their star horse is going to run a tiresome business? On the same day Ascot stages the Coral Hurdle and the Amlin Chase on a card that suggests the jumps season is well and truly under way.
Malcolm Heyhoe writes weekly horse racing articles for GG.COM-Horse racing betting, information, news, results and free daily tips
Archive Oct 2012
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