The five-year-old finished second to Order Of St George in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April, and was not beaten far by Vazirabad in France the following month.
Yet, after an enforced break because of fast ground during the summer, Geoff and Sandra Turnbull’s horse was not disgraced when eighth in the Ebor at York. And Leyburn-based O’Keeffe is looking forward to Lord Yeats and jockey Joe Colliver lining up in the first division of the racinguk.com Novices’ Hurdle at the West Yorkshire track.
“We’ve all had to be very patient with the dry autumn,” said O’Keeffe.
“His owners have been very patient. We’ve been waiting and waiting for the right conditions – and we think we’ve got them at last.
“He had a really good start to the season, but life got really difficult with the ground. He still ran a fantastic race in the Ebor – who knows where he’d have finished if it had been soft ground?
“We’re very hopeful about him. He’s got sporting owners, and there is jumping in his pedigree – his dam (Bogside Theatre) was pretty useful, he’s bred to stay and he likes give in the ground.
“He’s a big, strong horse – and his jumping at home has been excellent – so we are very excited about him, but he’s got to get it all together on the track.”
Lord Yeats faces eight rivals, including the Warren Greatrex-trained Encore Champs, a Ffos Las Bumper winner, and David Pipe’s Extra Mag, a winner in France.
Meanwhile, O’Keeffe’s stable star Sam Spinner, a Grade One winner over hurdles last season, is due to reappear in Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle on Friday.
Waiting Patiently, meanwhile, is on target to make his seasonal reappearance in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day for Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson.
An emotional winner of the Grade One Ascot Chase a day after Jefferson’s father Malcolm had been laid to rest, the seven-year-old bypassed the Cheltenham Festival.
However, a training setback saw Waiting Patiently miss his intended target at Aintree’s Grand National meeting – and the horse, a soft ground specialist, has yet to appear this season.
“The King George is the main target at the moment, but if we don’t make it we could always drop back to two miles and he’ll run in the Clarence House. He’ll have an entry in Ireland as well. It’s all ground dependent as well,” said owner Richard Collins.
“He summered very well, we’ve taken our time with him to get him freshened up.
“We’ve picked him up the last week or so, but being ground dependent, we’ll take it one step at a time.”
Tom George believes Summerville Boy deserves a crack at the best two-mile hurdlers after his exploits last season and he gets the chance straight away in Saturday’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner will certainly have his mettle tested as he is due to take on dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air and Irish star Samcro.
Summerville Boy’s Festival success over the popular Kalashnikov came in spite of mistakes at the final two flights.
“He’s been back in since the middle of July and we’ve been gradually stepping him up and he’s ready to go now,” said George. “Hopefully it will be a good platform for the rest of the season.”