Charlie Hills is excited by the prospects of Tommy De Vito in the feature six-furlong Betway Handicap (2.25pm) at Southwell on Thursday.
The unexposed sprinter lines up in the £30,000 contest on the back of a handicap victory over the same trip at Kempton Park in late October, when he defied a 481-day layoff to prevail by a short-head.
That was a second career win from five starts for the five-year-old, with his other success coming in a Newcastle novice race in January 2020. He is the 5/2 favourite with Betway.
Hills, who has a 43 per cent strike rate over the past fortnight, said: “We were really pleased with Tommy De Vito’s comeback at Kempton and it was a bit of a surprise he won like he did.
“He had a little setback in between then and now, which meant he missed a race at Newcastle, but his work over the last couple of weeks has been good and he should run a nice race.
“Going forward, I hope he can string a few runs together and I would like to think that he is capable of picking up a couple of nice prizes along the way.”
A competitive field of 10 for the Betway Handicap also includes the David Barron-trained Zarzyni, who was second to Fernando Rah at Southwell’s opening Tapeta fixture in early December.
Course and distance scorer Mohareb drops back in trip for Mick Appleby after weakening late on over seven furlongs last time out. He is joined by stable-mate Nigel Nott, who was in winning form at Newcastle two starts ago.
Aberama Gold, trained by Keith Dalgleish, is aiming to rediscover the level that saw him win the Listed Rockingham Stakes at York in 2019 and finish fourth behind Summerghand on Finals Day last season.
Progressive turf performer Digital returns from a 138-day break for Kevin Ryan. The pick of the five-year-old’s efforts last year was a neck second in a five-furlong handicap at York’s Ebor Festival.
The Ontoawinner racing syndicate has two contenders in Corinthia Knight, who captured the Three-Year-Old championship on Finals Day in 2018, and Shallow Hal, one of two runners for trainer Karl Burke alongside Astro Jack.
Mudlahhim makes his first start for local handler Scott Dixon after taking a claimer for Kevin Philippart de Foy at Wolverhampton last week.