King's Hollow Penny worth a few euro in Wincanton contest
In Hong Kong, there's a strange tradition when the last race of the season comes around whereby racegoers will back every single horse in the race.
It's considered lucky to finish off your betting year with a winning docket, and it's meant to be a signal that the following year will be profitable.
In Britain, the flat season draws to a close at Doncaster today and I'm half thinking that the Hong Kong approach might be the only way to find the winner of the November Handicap (3.35), which is notoriously tricky from a betting point of view. With no winning favourite in 18 years, bookmakers have firmly maintained the upper hand here.
This year's renewal looks as tricky as ever and at the time of writing, the market is struggling to produce a clear favourite, with Mount Logan, Farquhar, Old Town Boy and Open Eagle all attracting support. Of those, Mount Logan has the strongest claims, although 8/1 seems short for a horse which has never raced on ground this soft.
One horse which has proven himself on soft is Andrew Balding's Communicator, and although it's now over two years since he has won a race, he has been holding a certain level of form recently, placing six times this year.
I backed this one in the November Handicap last year in which he finished fifth, and he also finished second in 2012, so his record in this race is strong. Rated 92, he's 1lb higher than last year and gets the tentative each-way vote at 16/1 this afternoon.
Earlier on at Wincanton, Paul Nicholls' Southfield Theatre is expected to go off in the region of 4/6 for the Grade Two Bathwick Tyres Rising Stars Novices' Chase (1.30) but that seems short in a four-runner field which includes Philip Hobbs' Horizontal Speed and Alan King's Hollow Penny.
Granted, Southfield Theatre got his chasing career off to a winning start at Chepstow last month and is sure to improve over time - but he was allowed to dominate that race and I'm not so sure we learned a whole lot from the win.
Hollow Penny has that bit more experience over fences, winning his last three completed starts and I was particularly impressed with his victory in a handicap over Bertie's Desire at Wincanton last time. He gets the nod today at 10/3.
In the StanJames.com Elite Hurdle Limited Handicap (3.15 Wincanton), Nicky Henderson's Forgotten Voice looks overpriced at 7/1. The nine-year-old has been racing with credit on the flat in some Group contests over the summer, and would have preferred a stronger gallop when third on his return to hurdling at Kempton last time.
Among today's rivals are Irving (5/4), which was a big disappointment in the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham, and 2012 Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby (9/2). But both of those are making their seasonal debut and the selection's race fitness may just give him an edge today.
THE Fergal O'Brien-trained Creevytennant is seemingly a difficult horse to train but his handler has got it right more often than not, with the former point-to-pointer winning five of his eight races under rules. The ten-year-old has gone up 5lbs to 139 for winning a handicap chase at Perth last time but I suspect he has more to offer and at 12/1, he looks a solid each-way option for today's Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton (2.40).
1.30 Wincanton: Hollow Penny
2.40 Wincanton: Creevytennant (e/w)
3.0 Doncaster: Princess Loulou
3.15 Wincanton: Forgotten Voice
3.35 Doncaster: Communicator (e/w)