No trainer has a better record in the final major betting contest of the turf Flat racing season than John Gosden who has landed the Betfred November Handicap five times since 1991, a record equalled only by the late Sam Hall, but with two fancied runners in the 2013 renewal the Newmarket handler has a decent chance of making it win number six on Saturday afternoon.
Lahaag, the mount of Paul Hanagan for his retainer Hamdan Al Maktoum is disputing favouritism with Conduct – both available with many firms at 7-1, but the lightly-raced 4-year-old can be backed at 8-1 with the sponsor, Coral, William Hill and Stan James for the race worth over £40k to the winner. A game winner over Nicholascopernicus at York last month the son of Marju appears to have been trained with this race in mind and despite racing off a career-high mark of 101 is still expected to run a big race in the 1m 4f event first run in 1876. At the 16-1 available with Betvictor, William Hill and Coral however the vote goes to what appears to be the stable’s second-string in the shape of top-weight Aiken, the mount of William Buick.
The 5-year-old Selkirk gelding is a class act at his best and has been set some difficult tasks this season and although failing to beat one horse home in Ascot’s QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup last month is fancied to appreciate the drop back in trip with three of his last four starts having been over two mile. Aiken’s record over Saturday’s 12 furlongs is quite impressive with four victories and a creditable fourth behind Sea Moon in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last year. Almost six length back in sixth place was recent Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente while runner-up Dunaden won that race in 2011 beating third placed Red Cadeaux by the minimum margin of a nose.
If able to reproduce his victory over the classy Maxios in the Group 2 Grand Prix De Chantilly last July Aiken would be some betting proposition off a mark of 104 and despite having to give weight to his 23 rivals has the class to defy his hefty burdon if running up to something like his best in his first handicap attempt since landing Epsom’s Great Metropolitan in April 2012.