Heskin and George at the double with promising youngsters
The Adrian Heskin and Tom George partnership advertised its potential again yesterday when the pair teamed up for a double courtesy of Minella Aris and Sumkindofking.
The former provided the first leg of the double in the 3m novices' hurdle, sporting a tongue-tie for the first time and benefiting from a patient ride by the impressive Heskin.
Sent off the 6-4 favourite, Minella Aris stayed on best of all to score by a length and three quarters from the Jonjo O'Neill-trained For Instance.
"He's a nice horse and I just minded him as long as I could what with it being his first run for a long time," said Heskin. "He should progress from that."
That win meant Heskin was a perfect two-from-two around Southwell for his career and he made it unbeaten in three when Sumkindofking justified 2-5 favouritism in the 1m7½f maiden hurdle to score well.
An impressive Chepstow bumper winner earlier this month, Sumkindofking was made to work harder this time by I'm A Game Changer and Fattsota but came out on top by four lengths.
"That was a good trial for him, they went a good gallop from start to finish," said Heskin. "He's answering all the questions we're asking him so far."
Johnson also bags double
Champion jockey Richard Johnson also left Southwell with a double courtesy of wins in the final two races, the second thanks to a relative of an old friend.
Royal Village, a half-brother to Village Vic, outstayed the smooth-travelling Al Shahir to land odds of 11-8 and win the bumper.
"He's a really nice horse," Johnson said. "Having good relatives doesn't always make them any good but he looks like a nice horse for the future."
Half an hour earlier, Johnson scored aboard Mrs Burbidge for Neil Mulholland in the 2m4½f handicap hurdle.
Paul Murphy was feeling pleased with himself after Mercian Prince put up a smart performance to win the opening 2m4½f handicap chase.
The horse is trained by Murphy's daughter Amy, for whom this was a second winner, and was also bred by him, leaving him to remark: "It's a great result – I bred the horse and trainer!"
Amy Murphy struck with another of her father's horses, Mercian King, at Fakenham earlier this month and has a high opinion of yesterday's winner.
"He's been a horse we've really liked since he came over," she said. "We'll treat him like the good horse he is and look for a race around Christmas."
On a day defined by comfortable, short-priced winners, there was one tight finish as Fly Home Harry denied Midnight Jade what looked a certain success.
The 11-4 favourite, Midnight Jade cleared the final fence some six lengths clear but Paul Moloney was able to get a tune out of Fly Home Harry to get up by a short head.
"He does save a little bit for himself – hence the name," said Moloney.
Thought for the day
Those who looked a little deeper into the history of successful handicap debutante Hey Bill prior to the fourth race may have noticed a big clue lurking in his point-to-point form. On his third outing, he came down at the third-last flight when giving a lead to none other than Neptune winner Yorkhill.