Artful Artist Ready To Paint Leopardstown Red
With €60,000 up for grabs for the winner of Sunday’s November Handicap at Leopardstown over 1m7f (3.25), this prestigious handicap…
…will be hotly contested by some of the biggest yards around – including Sir Michael Stoute.
The Newmarket handler makes a rare trip to Leopardstown with his 4yo, Stomachion, who recorded a career best in winning a valuable handicap over an extended 1m6f at Doncaster last month (good to soft). Considering that was the gelding’s first outing over 1m6f, there should be more improvement to come.
But, what of the home challenge? Well, Aidan O’Brien enters the 3yo, Blue Hussar, who was beaten just over 6l in another valuable staying handicap here in the summer (1m6f, good to firm), and may have to more to offer back on softer ground (won his maiden in the mud).
Then there is the “handicap king”, Tony Martin, who is three-handed on Sunday with Atrful Artist, Spacious Sky and Pyromaniac. The 5yo, Artful Artist, has to be feared having won a big summer handicap at Galway over 1m4f, before finishing strongly over the same trip at the Curragh last month.
This step up in trip looks sure to suit, and his ability to handle the mud will be an asset.
Pyromaniac is less exposed as a 3yo, and arrives in fine fettle having won a 1m4f handicap on the Flat in August, prior to a 2l second in a 2m novice hurdle last month. Soft ground could be the only concern, as he bombed twice on it as a juvenile, but he is still respected despite having to race from 3lb out the handicap.
Willie Mullins is also in the hunt for the big prize, and runs a couple with chances in Digeanta and Clondaw Warrior. The former steps back in trip having been a 2l fifth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket (2m2f) and is 1lb higher here, while Clondaw Warrior is on a recovery mission having flopped when favourite in the Irish Cesarewitch a fortnight ago (2m). He did win two of his three previous outings, though, which has proven a plus in this race down the years…
Of the last 10 November Handicap winners…
9 were 3-6yo’s – others were 1-46
9 made the top five last time out – others were 1-60
8 won during last three runs
8 arrived via the Curragh (6) or Navan (2)
7 returned 8/1 or shorter (16%) – others were 3-124 (2%)
Dermot Weld won it twice
A glance at the above shows that Dermot Weld won this twice since 2004, and the master trainer has Hidden Universe, who was last seen finishing runner-up to El Salvador in the Irish Cesarewitch a fortnight ago (2m, yielding). Just 2lb higher on Sunday, and 3lb better with the winner, Hidden Universe looks sure to go well.
There are plenty of big fancies from major yards to catch the eye, but none more so than Tony Martin’s Artful Artist, who knows how to rumble in these big handicaps and has shaped the last twice as though this 1m7f may prove ideal.