NORTH YORKSHIRE’S Grade One-winning hurdler Sam Spinner is on course to make his seasonal reappearance later this month.
Leyburn trainer Jedd O’Keeffe’s wife Andrea says the smart stayer will reappear in Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle on Friday week.
She views the race as the ideal prep for Ascot’s Long’s Walk Hurdle on December 22 – the Grade One race that jockey Joe Colliver’s mount won last season after making all.
The ultimate objective, she says, is the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next March – Sam Spinner was fifth in this year’s renewal.
“He’s in really good order. He’s worked very well and Jedd is very happy with him,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s staying hurdling for this year. From Newbury, he will go to Ascot for the Long Walk which he won last year.
“The main target will be Cheltenham if everything goes to plan.”
O’Keeffe believes Sam Spinner, who came to public prominence one year ago by turning a top class hurdle contest on Betfair Chase day at Haydock into a one- horse race, has benefitted from a prolonged summer break.
“For him, he came back in looking quite fat,” she reported.
“He’s a very lean athlete and he will never look over big.
“He had a fantastic break and is really happy to be back at work.”
The one blip, she says, was a minor foot problem which ruled out an intended comeback in Wetherby’s West Yorkshire Hurdle at the start of this month.
Yet, with the ground unseasonably quick, Sam Spinner would have missed the race.
O’Keeffe also spoke about the significance of last year’s big race win at Ascot – and how this success gave a much needed fillip to Northern jump racing.
A win that has seen Sam Spinner, owned by Paul and Caron Chapman, shortlisted for two top industry awards, it demonstrated that trainers in Yorkshire – and the rest of the North – are more than capable of winning elite races if owners support them.
The success preceded Waiting Patiently’s Grade One win at Ascot for Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson while Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red recently became the first Yorkshire winner of the prestigious Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby for 31 years. Other trainers, like Richmond’s Phil Kirby, have also achieved notable successes.
O’Keeffe added: “In terms of numbers, we are slightly up on this time last year.
“I don’t think you can attribute that to Sam but he has helped to raise the profile of Northern jumping and given confidence to owners that they can have good horses in training here.
“If we can encourage more Northern owners to keep their horses here, that will be fantastic.”
Trainer Nicky Richards hailed Monet’s Garden as “everything you could want in a racehorse” following the death of the hugely-popular grey aged 20.
The Roselier gelding won 17 of his 32 starts under rules, including three victories in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.
He claimed the notable scalp of the great Kauto Star when securing the first of his Old Roan triumphs in 2007, and the race has been named in his honour since his retirement seven years ago.
Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds is one of 67 entries for next month’s Coral Welsh National at Chepstow. Fourth in the latest renewal of the marathon, the grey could make his seasonal reappearance at Haydock this weekend.