An EBF Maiden Stakes over 5f on standard going. Five debutantes from a mix of trainers. Two geldings, two colts and one filly. Fair prize money on offer.
Mark Johnston has made a lively start to the two-year-old season with plenty of horses fielded and winners, too. Rainbow Rebel is a son of Acclamation out of a poor mare [trained by Eric Alston] who didn't race until three. This bay colt cost 22,500GNS at the yearling sales and half-brother to Wonder Of Qatar. There seems money for this juvenile on the betting exchanges and will almost certainly start a short priced favourite. Johnston's debutantes are difficult to asses but the stable have a good strike rate at this course and plenty of form lines to make a judgement. A few of the opposition have something to prove and this may not be the strongest of races.
Bill Turner doesn't let the grass grow under his horse's feet and a few two-year-olds have raced so far. Just That Lord was a touch disappointing in the Brocklesby Stakes and probably showed a similar level on his next start when third. Other juveniles have made their racecourse bow but shown little. Raise The Game is an Irish-bred son of Bushranger out of a twice-winning mare. He was a 7,000EUR foal, not sold as a yearling for £4,500. He is a half-brother to multiple-winning Red Pike [Bryan Smart] and Just Past Andover [who represented Bill Turner in 2012 Brocklesby Stakes]. He is an early February foal, racing in the familiar red and white silks of E A Brook, who is a loyal owner who is no stranger to talented two-year-olds. Sigwells Farm Stable are reputed to do well with their debutantes although their strike rate doesn't read well [they usually have one or two fair juveniles and other poor horses]. It slightly concerns me that Just That Lord didn't set the world alight in the Brocklesby which may limit the string. A difficult horse to assess. The owner gives me more confidence but I'd have to take a watching brief.
Luvly is trained by Brian Baugh, who isn't known for training juvenile winners with just five runs in five years. This son of Multiplex is out of a winning mare and similarly owned. This horse is the oldest in the race being born on 1st February. Although a home bred racing in the silks of Richard Hunt he went through the yearling sale and bought in for £1,800 [often a technique used to gain entry to lower class median races]. Best watched.
Jo Hughes [the other half of Paul Blockley] are very much a gambling stable. In recent years, their juveniles have been either very fancied or weak in the betting. In fact, their strike rate is poor with just one debut winner [Lady Chantilly, 2013] in the last four years. Go Marnie is a bay gelding sired by Multiplex out of an unraced Italian mare. This May foal is a half-brother to Ivor's Rebel, who is a decent sprinter. Unless seriously backed, I'd take a watching brief. Their juveniles often go well when fancied second start.
One trainer who is worth a second look is Tony Coyle. Zeebriva Stables send out their first two-year-old of the season, a filly named New Road Side. This daughter of Paco Boy is out of a twice-winning mare. This bay was bought by the trainer at the yearling sales for £11,000 and half-sister to Byzantium who started her career at Listed class before winning second start. The stable's juveniles often show promise on their racecourse bow but struggle to win. One of the more likely contenders.
Conclusion: Southwell can be a tricky course and the surface isn't always to horse's liking. In many respects this looks potentially a poor race because the majority of the trainers struggle to win on debut or field unfancied types. I am often indifferent about Mark Johnston's debutantes but Rainbow Rebel must have fair claims. This son of Acclamation could well start odds-on and the focus of this race. Raise The Game is well owned and not badly bred but Turner's Brocklesby fourth could be a negative for the string. I'd take a watching brief. New Road Side hails from a trainer who often shows promise with juveniles but they struggle to win. Go Marnie & Luvly are best watched. An uninspiring contest and if Rainbow Rebel has ability he could run these ragged. However, at the odds I would have to watch with interest.