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Johnny Murtagh: Back the Badger to collect at Dundalk while this 25/1 shot can scalp his rivals at Doncaster

Top jock. Top trainer & top tipster. JP dishes the dirt at Dundalk on Friday night and tries to knock it out of the ball park in Doncaster's November handicap as the curtain comes down on the Flat turf season.

by Johnny Murtagh | November 6, 2015

Fran Berry and Andy Oliver are hitting a rich vein of form at the moment and PAYTHEPRICE sets the standard in the opener. He was a good fourth here last week and can step up on that now.

We’re straight into the tricky handicaps for the 6.30pm and Harry Rogers has booked Pat Smullen for Suburban Sky whose form is closely matched with Pat Flynn’s Little Sweetheart on their Navan run behind Daisy Bell two starts back.

But TIMES IN ANATEFKA can repeat last year’s win off a nice mark. She goes well fresh, Gary Halpin is a good 5lb claimer and Adrian Joyce had a winner last week so it looks like all systems go.

The 7pm looks a two-horse race between the top two of Jamesie and TOGOVILLE and I’ve a slight preference for the latter. He’s won around the track, Georgios Pakidis does well with his string and Pat Smullen is booked to do the steering.

BADGER DALY could follow up his Gowran Park win in the 7.30pm in what looks a weak-enough contest. He’s tough and consistent and two of his three wins have been at either Gowran Park (2) or Dundalk (1) so that could be an omen. Eddie Lynam’s Doc Holliday always runs a solid race and was third to Kodiac’s Back over course and distance last week.

Iron Major is tough and consistent and should go well in the 8pm but if Dot Love’s NOT A BAD OUL DAY is anywhere near his best form after a lay-off he should be hard to beat. He won twice at Gowran Park and Sligo earlier in the year and should go close to bringing up the hat-trick.

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My own Eye of the Tiger is very consistent but pays for that by never getting dropped in the ratings. He’s run 14 times, won once but got another 2lb for finishing second here last time out.

I’d be hopeful rather than confident of winning but he should run well again as he’s in great form at home. Maybe my daughter Caroline’s 7lb claim will make the difference to him getting his head in front.

Poitin is also one for the short-list. He goes well around Dundalk and has a good 3lb claimer in Robbie Downey.

The last race on the card is a 10f maiden and James Barrett’s Melanna  is the highest-rated in the field but disappointed here in a Listed race in October. Sometimes it can take a run to get use to the all-weather surface and on form so far there doesn’t look to be anything like that level of opposition on show now.

Ballydoyle have the un-raced Ice Kingdom in the field however so the market may be the best guide.

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November Handicap, Saturday, Doncaster 3.30pm

This is a very, very competitive race to end the English Flat turf season. Apart from last year’s contest throwing up a winning favourite in Open Eagle (15/2f)  – the market leaders haven’t got a great record.

Ralph Beckett’s Argus was the only three-year-old in the race and won well over course and distance last time out – but is now a non-runner – while David Barron’s Esteaming looks to have been laid out for this. Penhill trained by Luca Cumani is fancied after winning nicely at Haydock recently.

But for a bit of value I’m going to side with Alsn King’s FIRST MOHICAN .
He’s a tough campaigner who ran well when second at Goodwood over this trip on soft ground before disappointing in the Cesarewitch. He’s a big price to hit the places or better as the Flat turf season signs off for the winter.

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