Ashforth’s Angles: Nigella the one and only at Southwell

Southwell: not the finest action on offer on Tuesday

PICTURE: Martin Lynch Ashforth's Angles: One
and only at Southwell By David Ashforth 3:28PM 21 NOV 2016

RACEGOERS at Southwell are in for a rare treat, as long as the meeting passes a morning inspection. Treat may be the wrong word but rare is definitely right.

It is not a classy card, the classes all being either Class 5 or Class 6, but in Striking Nigella (1.50) the meeting features a rarity, a horse with an official rating of 1.

Such a rating is extremely rare and achieving it is not easy. It requires a level of failure below and beyond the commonplace. Striking Nigella has achieved that level, for which she can blame her mother, Fiona Fox, for setting a bad example.

Between 2006 and 2008 Fiona Fox ran five times, runs which included finishing last of 16, last of 12 twice and eleventh of 13. Maintaining the family tradition, Striking Nigella, a six-year-old unraced until this year, made her debut in a bumper at Southwell, finishing last of 13, beaten over 75 lengths, at 150-1.

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Switched to sprinting, the following month Striking Nigella ran over six furlongs at Doncaster and finished last of 17, beaten 35 lengths at 250-1. She ran twice in May, finishing last of 8 beaten 50 lengths at 200-1 at Catterick then last of five beaten 31 lengths at 100-1 at Ripon. In August, making her handicap debut in a selling race at Thirsk, Striking Nigella put up her best performance, finishing eleventh of 15 beaten 30 lengths at 150-1.

Somebody must love her, possibly owner-breeder Mr F Dickinson, but it is hard to be optimistic for the future. It will be interesting to see what Striking Nigella's starting price is and whether or not she can finish within 30 lengths of the winner. Hope springs eternal, or does it?

The winner will, of course, be Happy Hollow, Alan Swinbank's unbeaten triple bumper winner. Everybody knows that. I wonder what Swinbank's plans are for Happy Hollow? Afterwards, maybe someone will ask him.

As the American Declaration of Independence recognised – "We hold these truths to be self-evident" – and as Jane Austen put it – "It is a truth universally acknowledged" – that if you look at a racecard long enough eventually you will fancy something.

If you keep looking, eventually you will back something. It was true in 1776, true in 1813 and remains true at Southwell in 2016. I don't suppose Austen was much of a gambler but Thomas Jefferson, the prime author of the Declaration of Independence, used to bet and was quite keen on lotteries.

So my eye was eventually drawn, as it tends to be, to the amateur riders' handicap (1.20) and the name of Limerick Lord. Granted, the four-year-old has failed to win in 16 attempts since winning over course and distance last December; not a strong recommendation.

Still, you should see some of the others. Limerick Lord ran respectably over course and distance last time, has the able Mr Ross Birkett on board and has a decent draw. What can possibly go wrong?

No, the Southwell card is not classy but there will be eight winners and eight sets of happy connections. Good luck.

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