Last display of Flat fireworks at Doncaster as turf season bids adieu
Remember when Britain was sweating in the midst of a seemingly never-ending heatwave? Well the T-shirts and shorts have been packed away in favour of chunky knits and scarfs, the clocks were pushed back at the end of October and racing in the evening now requires the addition of floodlights.
The seasons have changed, and now we have entered autumn it is time to say farewell to the Flat turf season for another winter, and embrace the jumping action.
But there is still time for one last Flat hurrah at Doncaster, with the traditional November Handicap meeting ushering out the campaign.
Fireworks have been lighting up night skies of late, and John Gosden aims to provide another big bang in what has already been a sparkling season for the yard with November Handicap favourite Royal Line.
Punters are doubling down on the four-year-old, who was unable to convert favouritism in the race last year when finishing seventh. Royal Line has not been sighted since winning the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom in April but could be the answer in what is a ferociously competitive 23-runner race backed by Marathonbet.
There are two final chances for connections to grab turf black-type with a brace of Listed races at Town Moor, while the final Flat Group race of the year in Europe takes place at Toulouse in the shape of the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air.
Away from Doncaster the change in focus is evident, with four jumps meetings spread between Britain and Ireland. Wincanton's hugely popular Badger Ales raceday provides an ideal opportunity to imbibe some traditional beers while trying to unravel the feature Listed Badger Ales Trophy (3.35), in which Present Man bids to defend his crown.
There is a potential superstar on show at Naas, as Racing Post Arkle winner and unbeaten chaser Footpad kicks off his season in the Grade 3 Poplar Square Chase (12.30).
Throw in competitive action from Aintree and Kelso and there is plenty to keep your cockles well and truly warmed.
Irish eyes could be smiling at Doncaster
Ireland's Flat turf season is already in the annals for 2018, and there is a noticeably large contingent present at Doncaster attempting to spirit away the Listed prizes.
One name who does not often appear in a racecard at the track is Dermot Weld, but he sends over Bona Fide to contest the Marathonbet Sportsbook British EBF Gillies Fillies' Stakes (1.30).
Weld has had only six runners – none of whom hit the target – at the course since 1988, while Aidan O'Brien, who is much more familiar with the Doncaster winner's enclosure, is also represented in the race with Snowflakes.
Gordon Lord Byron has seen more of the world than many an avid backpacker, and the globetrotting sprinter returns to the course for another crack at the Marathonbet Official Global Partner of Manchester City Wentworth Stakes (2.05).
The ten-year-old finished sixth in the race last year, and on his 94th start is paired with Adam Kirby for the first time, who becomes the 23rd different jockey to hop aboard the son of Byron.
Trainer Tom Hogan said: "We're hoping it doesn't rain too much as he's a better horse on better ground. He'll have to be at his best to win as there are some smart horses in the race."
Another masterclass from Cumani?
The finale of this British Flat turf season brings with it the end of an era. Luca Cumani may not be bowing out of the training ranks until December 1, but Saturday has its own milestone attached, as Pacharana is his final turf representative in the Gillies Fillies' Stakes.
The scriptwriters have already been in overdrive, following God Given's hugely fitting Group 1 success in Cumani's homeland at the Capannelle last weekend, and now there is the opportunity for another plot twist as Pacharana bids for a first Pattern success.
Cumani's first British Classic win was achieved at Doncaster in the 1984 St Leger with Commanche Run, and while he will be attending only in spirit on Saturday, the trainer said of Pacharana: "She went to stud at the end of last year but didn't get in foal so came back into training in late July.
"She's a gross filly who at always needs two or three races to get into peak form. We think she's come on from her last two races and we just hope she can be competitive."
Progressive Landue chasing Chelmsford pot
Valuable pots have featured with increasing regularity at the Essex all-weather track, and there is another decent prize on offer on Saturday evening with the £50,000 Bet totetrifecta At totesport.com Galleywood Handicap (6.00).
The race could go the way of progressive stayer Landue, who is chasing a four-timer and sixth win in his last seven starts.
A winner of five of his ten starts, with the most recent victory achieved on Tuesday, Landue has banked £21,750 in total earnings but victory at Chelmsford would more than double that total, with £31,125 on offer to the winner.
Trainer Marcus Tregoning said: "He's running back quick again but seems to be winning his races okay and he's back up in trip, which should suit him.
"We're very happy with him and hopefully he'll go very well again."
Mullins going fishing with pair of Grade 1 winners
Smallish fields but extremely interesting horses is a feature of Saturday's jumps action in Britain and Ireland, and the six-runner Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle (1.05) at Naas is a case in point.
Saldier and Mr Adjudicator, Grade 1 winners for Willie Mullins last season, stand out among the half-dozen runners, along with the Gavin Cromwell-trained Espoir D’Allen.
The Rich Ricci-owned Saldier has been given the vote of confidence from Ruby Walsh, with Paul Townend set to ride Mr Adjudicator for champion trainer Mullins.
He said of his duo: “Similarly to Footpad in his race, this is a nice race to start the two of them off in. Both horses seem in good form and hopefully they both run well.”
Another gift for Fellowes?
Following Prince Of Arran's brilliant third place in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, Newmarket trainer Charlie Fellowes is chasing more overseas success on Saturday, with Divine Gift contesting the Listed Criterium du Languedoc at Toulouse.
The two-year-old faces seven rivals in the mile contest and Stevie Donohoe, who has ridden the colt on all five starts to date, also makes the journey, with the jockey able to draw upon previous experience at the track.
He said: "It won't be the first time I've ridden at Toulouse as I rode there a few years ago for Michael Bell.
"Divine Gift seems to be going the right way at home. He's very straightforward but I don't think he was seen to best effect at Pontefract in the Silver Tankard. The softer the ground the better for him, and the mile trip will definitely suit."
On the same card, the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air is the final Group race of the year in Europe.
Andrew Balding is another trainer on the hunt for euros on Saturday as he runs Belle Meade in the Listed Premio Chiusura at the San Siro in Milan, Italy.
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