Festival is target for Sam but not this year
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