Early favourite Aurillac returns to calmer waters after failing to land a blow in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. A convincing seven length winner at Chepstow prior to that, albeit over a shorter trip than today, puts him right in the mix for today’s race and with the Rebecca Curtis yard in good form both recent weeks he warrants serious respect. However, my selection for this race is the current second favourite Say My Name who was an impressive fifteen length winner over course and distance when last seen in February. The form of this race has held up well with the runner-up going on to win next time out and the 3rd and 4th have both placed since. Furthermore, the yard have a good record at the course as 57% of runners have the frame in the last twelve months. Of the remainder, Whipcord is an interesting recruit for Paul Nicholls having won and placed in point-to-points last year and may be capable of making his presence felt on his debut under rules.
Say My Name (E/W if 9/2+)
Tom George has his stable in fine form at the moment, boasts a 50% winning strike rate over both hurdles and fences in the last two weeks and sends Wild West Wind here to try and improve on this even further. The seven year old has two wins from three over todays’ trip and although only second last time out this was over three furlongs further so the drop back in trip looks sure to suit. A solid run for our first selection in the 13:50 would boost confidence further as Wild West Wind beat him by a wide margin at Chepstow in February. The biggest danger looks to be the Harry Fry trained A Plein Temps who improved to win by one length at Taunton last time out, beating a couple of opponents who have gone on to win since and has won two and placed twice from seven runs over distances around three miles. A 5lbs rise isn’t overly harsh but won’t make things any easier. Of the remainder, Toby Lerone won over fences last time out and can compete off 4lbs less now returning to hurdles although has only one win in eleven over the smaller obstacles, while Valhalla may do better now handicapping and cannot be dismissed for the in-form Colin Tizzard stable.
Wild West Wind (E/W if 9/2+)
Greyfriarschorista comes in to this as hot favourite and has a strong career record both here at Southwell and at this level. He has also won over course and distance yet has only won once in nine attempts over this distance which was off a mark 10lbs less than today. At the early prices Seamster looks a decent each way alternative at around 5/1 given that he has made the top three places in 63% of races over todays’ trip and has one win and two placed efforts from four runs over course and distance. He ran a decent second last time out but was still over three lengths behind the winner and is still 3lbs higher than his last winning mark. Abi Scarlett has a decent strike rate over course and distance having won eight and placing five times from nineteen runs and although hasn’t won since January 2015 she is now 6lbs lower than her last winning mark and returned to something like her old form when beaten a neck into second last time out. She hasn’t been the most reliable in recent months but a similar run to last time out would see her right in the mix today.
Abi Scarlett (E/W if 9/2+)