Ashforth’s Angles: Nigella striking for all the wrong reasons

Tuesday's action at Southwell features a horse with a rating of one

PICTURE: Martin Lynch Nigella striking for all the wrong reasons By David Ashforth 6:00PM 12 DEC 2016

SOUTHWELL'S opening 0-60 32Red Casino Nursery Handicap (12.00) on Tuesday is the proverbial triumph of hope over experience and makes me wonder what will become of the 13 contestants; not in the race but in years to come.

Between them, they have run 59 times with top weight Gracious Tom's recent success in a seller at Lingfield the only victory to show for all the time, money and hope invested in them. It would be interesting and perhaps chastening to track the futures of this sample of undistinguished juveniles.

Only the bold, foolish or personally involved will take a stab at picking the winner and caution is also always advisable in claiming races; in this case, the Betway Claiming Stakes (2.00).

For a variety of reasons, horses in claimers often fail to run to their official handicap mark, not least because the reason they are running in a claimer is often because they are not capable of running to their official mark.

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Striking Nigella 73lb 'wrong'

It is safe to say that if Rhombus, rated 95, turns out again he will finish ahead of Striking Nigella, whose most striking feature is that she is rated 1. I defy you to find another horse in training with the same rating.

Claiming 21lb from Rhombus, Striking Nigella is 73lb "wrong" with the top-weight. At the weights, all other things being equal which, of course, they aren't, Rhombus is 8lb "well in" with the next best in at the weights – Brigadoon. They might finish first and second respectively but I wouldn't bet on it. If Rhombus is a non-runner, they definitely won't.

A better and more straightforward prospect (straightforward is good) might be Epeius to prove the best of a not very good bunch in the maiden race (1.00). Or he might come second, of course.

By then we will have had another experience of the exasperating Tennessee Bird (Catterick 12.20), whose latest form letters read RRP. Having twice refused to race, Tennessee Bird went too fast at Market Rasen and duly dropped out, spent, and was pulled up.

Capable amateur Mr Tommie O'Brien has the dubious privilege of seeing what he can make of the rascal. He could beg Mike Sowersby's eight-year-old to cooperate in a spirit of goodwill at Christmas although that is a bit of a long shot. Tennessee Bird probably doesn't believe in Christmas.

Weatherer off and running

An even longer shot is Parisian Charmer (Catterick 1.50), the first runner as a trainer for Mark Weatherer. In the past he and The Weatherer Grain Partnership owned a small assortment of horses, namely Royal Fashion, Lady Rose Lewis and Tea For Texas, Parisian Charmer's dam.

Based near Leyburn in North Yorkshire, Weatherer will be hoping that something better comes along but you have to start somewhere. In this case it's at Catterick.

It might have been at Wincanton, where a chase is being run to celebrate Karl Stringfellow's 70th Birthday (1.40). I've no idea who he is but let's hope he has a good time and that the 11-year-olds Carloswayback or Café De Paris strike an appropriate blow for the elderly.

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