Mohican targets November scalp

First Mohican, who once ran the mighty Frankel close on the gallops, puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster today.

While the world’s best racehorse left Henry Cecil’s stables in Newmarket on Thursday to begin a career at nearby Banstead Manor after a flawless 14 successes, First Mohican will be gracing a racecourse for just the fourth time.

The workout with Frankel left its mark for a while before First Mohican ever set foot on the track.

“They did one gallop together before Frankel ever ran and my horse joined Frankel at the end,” said First Mohican’s owner Henry Ponsonby.

“That was four weeks before Frankel ran. The other horse in the gallop was Midsummer Sun.

“That gallop put paid to my horse not running until the end of the season.

“After that gallop Henry did ring me to say this is the best horse you’ll ever own.”

First Mohican duly won on his debut in late October 2010, but then injury struck and he had to miss his entire three-year-old career while his illustrious stablemate continued to carry all before him.

Appearances in two modest handicaps, by comparison, have been all the son of Tobougg has contested on his return this autumn, but he has won them in good style and heads to Town Moor as firm favourite for the big race on the final day of the Flat season.

“We could have done with a better draw (21), but some of the other horses I rate as dangers, including Nicholascopernicus (18), are also drawn high,” said Ponsonby.

“In an ideal world I would have liked a better draw.

“Having said that, he had a bad draw over a mile and a quarter for his last two runs but was able to overcome it.

“The mile and a half is obviously a plus on that factor.

“I think he’ll run a big race, but we could have done with a few more showers.”

Ponsonby still has high hopes for First Mohican who will race on as a four-year-old.

“He’s going straight from Doncaster to Henry’s Cliff Stud, but he wants him back by Christmas,” said Ponsonby.

“He thinks next year will be his year.”

Ed Walker is keen on the prospects of Nicholascopernicus.

“Three-year-olds have got a 6lb pull against the older horses, which helps, especially at this time of year,” the Newmarket handler told At The Races.

“Physically he’s been improving all year, so I’m not too worried about taking them on at this time of year.

“This will be his ninth start this year so we’ll call it a day after this race and we’ll look forward to him for next year.

“It’s a very tough race, as ever, but we’ve got a good candidate.”

Art Scholar was runner-up to First Mohican at Nottingham and ran another good race when second over this course and distance two weeks ago.

His trainer Michael Appleby is looking for another decent show.

“I think he’s got a good chance. The ground’s dried up so it should suit him a bit better this time,” he said.

“I expect him to run a big race.”

David O’Meara hopes to end what has been a successful season on a high when he saddles Art History and War Poet. “For Art History, the better the ground, the better his chance and it seems that he might get his ground. He doesn’t want any soft in it at all,” said the North Yorkshire trainer.

“He’s wearing blinkers for the first time but he has worn headgear in the past over hurdles so it’s not as if it’s new to him.

“We’ve given War Poet a break to get him fresh specifically for this.

“The handicapper might have him, but we think he’ll run well.

“He likes Doncaster – he’s run well there a few times.”

Andrew Balding hopes Communicator will have benefited from a 10-week gap from his last outing.

“We have given him a break to save him for this,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“His last two runs at Chester have been exceptional but we know this is going to be very competitive.

“The ground should be fine for him and he’s really come to himself.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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