Racing: Franco poised to stamp her authority

Simon Holt of Channel 4 Racing analyses today's November Handicap
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The Independent Online
Yavana's Pace: Very tough and consistent performer, yet to finish out of the frame this season and a winner three times. Second to Raise A Prince at Ascot on latest start. Hard to discount.

Present Arms: Fair fifth to Yavana's Pace at Sandown in July and having first run since when scoring at Ascot recently. Stays this trip and should run well.

Punishment: Carries a 8lb penalty for hard-fought, deserved first success of the season at Leicester recently. Neck second to Yavana's Pace at Sandown in July. Often finishes well.

Salmon Ladder: Long-in-the-tooth middle-distance performer, still capable of reasonable form but vulnerable to younger, more progressive types. Often makes the running.

Basman: Should be fresh after a light campaign. Showed signs of a return to form when fourth to Punishment at Leicester recently but has plenty of weight.

Dacha: Boasts some useful handicap form in the past but has not raced for two years.

Due South: Returning from a long absence when third to Rainbow Ways at Newmarket last month and could be spot on for this. Earlier ran in Listed/Group Three company. Has chances.

Dato Star: Placed twice in this race and should be cherry-ripe again following a runaway Ayr success last time. Must have soft ground. Well handicapped.

Edwardian: Progressive winner of his last two starts in minor company at Goodwood and Kempton. Faces toughest task yet but a likeable individual who stays well.

Bay Of Islands: Strong-galloping winner over course and distance earlier in the season but recent efforts much less inspiring.

Alkateb: In good form at present - ninth in the Cambridgeshire and second to Billaddie in heavy ground at Newbury latest effort. Unproven at this trip.

Fantail: Only ninth of 13 behind Rainbow Ways at Newmarket last time and has looked held by the handicapper of late. Probably acts on any going.

Colleville: Winner twice in June/July at Warwick and Leicester over middle- distances and may have been trained for this race. Freshened up since latest (modest) effort at York.

Achilles: Fluent scorer here in March and then changed stables following a disappointing run in the Derby Trial at Lingfield. Still struggling to recover best form.

Diaghilef: Winner at Royal Ascot in 1995 but very lightly raced nowadays. Beaten over 10 lengths when fourth at Newbury in July and off since.

Red Ramona: Enters calculations on his fourth to Robin Lane at Ascot early last month as that form has worked out well.

Veronica Franco: Winner five times this season and has been a model of consistency. Only fifth to Rainbow Ways at Newmarket last time, but this race will be run to suit her.

Mister Benjamin: Boasts three wins from six starts this term and beaten only a head by Brilliant Red at Newbury on latest start. Unproven beyond 1m 2f.

Totem Dancer: Consistent form this season but nine lengths behind the third when fourth at Ascot last time. Earlier split Raise A Prince and Dato Star at Ayr.

Carlys Quest: Seldom runs a bad race - second again over the course and distance last time - but often seems to find one or two too good. Usually finishes well.

Pension Fund: Winner on heavy at Ripon in September but well below that form last two outings.

Flower O'Cannie: Sluiced home by 17 lengths at Newcastle last week and won again on Wednesday at Musselburgh but will find this far more competitive.

Flag Fen: Slipped his field when making all unchallenged from Carlys Quest at Newmarket two starts ago but unable to dominate next time. Faces a tough task.

Conclusion: VERONICA FRANCO has had a long season but thrives when coming from off a strong pace and should get it here. Dato Star will be hard to keep out of the money again.

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