Fes­ti­val is tar­get for Sam but not this year

Gloucestershire Echo - - BRAIN TEASER - By MELISSA JONES

SAM Drinkwa­ter has the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val in mind for im­pres­sive re­cent win­ner Howl­ing Mi­lan, but ad­mits this year’s meet­ing may come too soon.

The five-year-old re­warded strong mar­ket sup­port in a New­bury novices’ hur­dle on Jan­uary 16, where he led all the way un­der Sam Twis­ton-davies.

For the 26-length vic­tory at the Grade One track, the hand­i­cap­per has al­lot­ted a mark of 134 which of­fi­cially makes him the Stren­sham sta­ble’s best horse.

That hon­our was pre­vi­ously held by Tour Des Champs, a 50/1 win­ner at Chel­tenham on New Year’s Day 2017 and Drinkwa­ter’s first run­ner at the iconic course.

Un­for­tu­nately later that year the chaser died from colic and the yard has been without a horse to com­pete in the bet­ter qual­ity races.

The lull could now be at an end though thanks to the Ir­ish re­cruit, as the 2020 Fes­ti­val could be on the radar.

“Howl­ing Mi­lan has been given a mark of 134,” said Drinkwa­ter, who trains near Stren­sham Ser­vices.

“I think he can be a Pertemps Fi­nal horse if we look af­ter him.

“He has im­proved a lot, be­cause he was held up by a res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion in Oc­to­ber when we wanted to run him at Chel­tenham’s Show­case meet­ing.

“He did plenty of slow work be­fore New­bury the first time and ran a nice race, he was sixth the next day and he was prob­a­bly spot on for his most re­cent run.

“He’s ac­tu­ally still quite weak and is still grow­ing, so it wouldn’t be the right thing to do to aim for Chel­tenham this year.

“We may look at an­other novice with a penalty, put him away and then work backwards from next March.”

Howl­ing Mi­lan is one of 15 horses Drinkwa­ter has in train­ing just over the Glouces­ter­shire bor­der.

The hur­dler runs in the colours of the Stren­sham Strag­glers, whose mem­bers en­tered the win­ners’ en­clo­sure twice with Northand­south.

The horse was sold for £3,000 in the sum­mer to Ay­tach Sadik.

Drinkwa­ter said some of the money the syn­di­cate had com­ing in was rein­vested in Howl­ing Mi­lan.

Plans for his promis­ing sta­ble­mate Gen­eral Con­sen­sus are up in the air how­ever, as he is cur­rently side­lined with an is­sue which flared up fol­low­ing his sole run of the sea­son in Oc­to­ber.

Sam Twis­ton-davies rides Howl­ing Mi­lan to vic­tory at New­bury for Stren­sham trainer Sam Drinkwa­ter

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