LAST weekend threw up a host of questions, as opposed to answers.
Swincombe Flame successfully took the money in the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle, under a terrific ride from young Will Kennedy, only to be tarnished with a seven day ban for excessive use of the whip from the stewards under the shambolic new penalty system. Horses of note that came out of this weekend well included Cotton Mill, Menorah and Saddlers Risk as connections endeavour to establish Cheltenham festival credentials.
It has been another terrific week for the column’s favourite young jockey JAMES REVELEY, who made a fine comeback from a potentially serious concussion on Boxing Day with two winners on his first two runners back, completing a 70/1 double at Doncaster last Wednesday. He is back up north again this Wednesday, with a terrific book of rides for his old man, and I think every single one of them has to be considered as having a good chance. In the last 12 months James has a 36% strike rate at Southwell and in his last 11 rides there has had four winners and a further four places.
Going through his rides, there are some with stronger claims than others, SAMBELUCKY in the first looking one worthy of an interest. He has been in good form throughout the winter since winning a decent Catterick handicap and the form of that race has been working out really well. He’s followed that up with two decent runs, including a second at Huntingdon on Friday behind a seemingly well handicapped horse.
The best bet of the day may well turn out to be CORKAGE, who made amends for falling when having the race at his mercy at Catterick two starts ago by obliging on Reveley’s first ride since injury at Doncaster in grand fashion. He travelled exceptionally well and, given the manner of his eight length victory, could be well ahead of the handicapper despite a 6lb penalty.
SAM D’OC was pulled up last time out after struggling with his jumping, when running in the same race as Sambelucky. The horse seemed to struggle with the larger obstacles and the move to hurdling could spark some old magic in the maiden. He could be a decent price and a sleeper in the market.
NIGHT IN MILAN is another consistent sort who has been knocking on the door, with an unlucky second at Sedgfield followed up by a rather laboured fourth at Market Rasen. The well bred son of Milan carries the familiar colours of Mr Richard Collins which have been seen to great effect this year. The trainer/owner combo has placed in 45% of all runs, a comforting stat, and will be hoping to build on only one win in the last six weeks.
OAKSLANDS ELISE runs in the last, a National Hunt Flat race, and, on paper at least, looks a very interesting prospect. Out of a multiple winning mare and from a successful family, including two half brothers who have both won bumpers in the last 18 months. The stable are usually quite good at getting them ready first time out, with a 27% strike rate showing a +£7 profit to a £1 stake backing them in NHF races,
Selections (all Southwell on Wednesday)
12.40 Sambelucky (Nb)
13.10 Corkage (Nap)
13.45 (Sam D’oc)
14.50 Night in Milan
15.55 Oaklands Elise