Jedd O’Keeffe has the RSA Chase in mind for Sam Spinner and is plotting a route to the race via the December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.
The Long Walk Hurdle winner has made a flawless start to his chasing career so far, winning both starts over the larger obstacles with something to spare.
He was a three-length winner on his debut over fences in a novice contest at Wetherby in October and then returned to the scene of that victory to post a second success over an increased trip of three miles.
O’Keeffe is now targeting the Grade Two on December 14 with the seven-year-old, with the three-mile RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March the ultimate target.
“He’s in great shape,” the trainer said of his stable star, who finished second behind Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle at last season’s Festival.
“His next target is the Grade Two three-mile novice chase at Doncaster – the December Novices’ Chase.
“We’ll see how we get on there, but our long-term plan in the RSA Chase at the Festival. All being well, that’s the target for the season.’’
Officials at Doncaster have been forced to abandon the fixture scheduled for Saturday.
The first day of the two-day meeting had already fallen to waterlogging, and with no significant improvement likely in conditions, the second afternoon was called off following a Thursday inspection.
The prolonged wet spell had already seen Doncaster lose its last two big Saturdays on the Flat, in October and earlier this month. Racing does go ahead at Newcastle tomorrow, though, and Phil Kirby has decided to let Lady Buttons have a go at Buveur D’Air in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
The admirable mare developed into a classy chaser last season but successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles on her Wetherby comeback to win a Listed prize for the second year running.
Dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air may have fallen early on in last season’s renewal at Cheltenham, but the eight-year-old ended the campaign on a high with victory in the Punchestown version in early May, and he has won this Grade One for the past two years.
His latest assignment following his summer break is to try to give trainer Nicky Henderson a sixth success in the Gosforth Park showpiece.
His main rival, according to the betting, is Silver Streak, who outran his odds of 80-1 to fill third place behind the ill-fated Espoir D’Allen in the Champion Hurdle.
Evan Williams’s stable star enjoyed a cosy triumph in a Listed contest at Kempton on his seasonal reappearance six weeks ago.
He will be ridden by Adam Wedge, who feels Silver Streak should not be underestimated.
“It’s a big ask. Obviously Buveur D’Air is a very good horse, but our lad deserves to take his chance in a Grade One,” Wedge said.
“He exceeded all of our expectations last year. We always hoped he’d be a good horse, but he kept progressing all the time and surprising us all the way along.
“First time out this year was a very good run and he seems to have filled out and grown up again, so hopefully he can go forward.”
Micky Hammond’s Cornerstone Lad takes the big step up in class from handicap company. Nelson River, trained by Tony Carroll, completes the quintet.
The other big race on Saturday is Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy, with Ok Corral and Cabaret Queen featuring.