November’s given Gos­den six of best

Sunday Sun - - Racing -

ROYAL Line capped John Gos­den’s remarkable sea­son with a record sixth vic­tory for the trainer in Don­caster’s November Hand­i­cap.

Gos­den’s Group One ex­ploits home and abroad with su­per­stars such as En­able and Cracks­man have been a high-pro­file theme through­out the sum­mer.

It was there­fore a highly ap­pro­pri­ate cul­mi­na­tion in the Marathon­bet-spon­sored November Hand­i­cap, on the fi­nal day of the turf cam­paign, that Royal Line put be­hind him his eclipse as favourite 12 months ago.

He scooted clear at 9-1 this time un­der Robert Havlin to beat Hughie Mor­ri­son’s 33-1 shot Not So Sleepy and Ian Wil­liams’ Reshoun by one-and-a-half lengths and a head. Birds Of Prey was a neck fur­ther back in fourth, rid­den by Me­gan Ni­cholls for her fa­ther, Paul.

Gos­den, who had failed to add to his record-equalling fifth November Hand­i­cap suc­cess for the past six years, took the fam­ily tally to nine – adding to his fa­ther Towser’s three win­ners.

He has also put him­self one ahead of Sam Hall, whose five wins came in the days when the race was known as the Manches- ter November Hand­i­cap and run on the other side of the Pen­nines.

From the mo­ment Havlin and Royal Line headed Birds Of Prey two fur­longs out, it was clear the four-year-old was a class apart in this tra­di­tion­ally ultra-com­pet­i­tive mile-and-a-half event.

In Gos­den’s ab­sence, Havlin was happy to pay tribute to the master trainer’s skills.

He said: “We’ve seen how he can turn horses out af­ter a long lay-off – then we saw En­able again (at the Breed­ers’ Cup) last week.”

Royal Line had run only twice since fin­ish­ing sev­enth at his first at­tempt in this race.

“He was rated 96, but he was a three-year-old and this race doesn’t have good stats for three-year-olds,” added Havlin.

“We did fancy him (then), but he was a lot busier last year.

“He’s won it off 105 to­day, and I hope we can keep him for next year.

“He’s the type you’d like to keep around the place.”

Havlin had plenty in hand, even though Royal Line was giv­ing up to a stone to all but two of his ri­vals.

“He’s won his last few gal­lops at home, so we came here hope­ful,” he said.

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