Jedd O’Keeffe is hoping to restore Sam Spinner’s confidence and get his classy staying hurdler back on track in this month’s galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Last season’s JLT (Long Walk) Hurdle winner unseated Joe Colliver at the second flight when trying to repeat his 2017 success in the Ascot Grade One.
O’Keeffe believes his charge appeared to take an instant dislike to the padded hurdles, three weeks after his seasonal debut at Newbury where he was badly hampered at the second-last in the Long Distance – with Colliver being unshipped.
The Leyburn trainer is to give Sam Spinner some schooling to see if he has got over his bad experience.
“Sam’s great, he’s back cantering, all seems good,” said O’Keeffe.
“Obviously we’re going to do some schooling, and then we’ve got to assess where we are with him.
“We don’t know the answer as to why he behaved like he did at Ascot. My feeling is he took exception to the padded hurdles he hadn’t seen before, and they gave him a bit of a fright.
“People are telling me it wasn’t the first time they’d seen it. It was the first time I’d seen a horse react like that.”
He hopes some remedial homework will point the way forward.
“Trainers and other people are telling me they’ve seen other horses react like that, so the first thing is to school him and see whether his confidence has been dented.
“We do intend to school him over a padded hurdle as well and check he’s okay after that. If all is good and his confidence is okay, we plan to go to the Cleeve. Basically, we’ve got to try to get his career back on track.
“If we can get everything right and back going again, the plan would be go back to the Festival for Stayers’ Hurdle.”
Cheltenham is the dream too for Lord Yeats, who looked a decent recruit when switched from the Flat to get off the mark at the second attempt over hurdles at Sedgefield on Boxing Day.
O’Keeffe said: “He’s in great shape. I was thrilled with his win at Sedgefield, where he did it really well.
“He’s getting the hang of things, and I think we can do better yet.
“He has learnt to settle quite well now, and I think he can improve his jumping a bit further.”
The learning curve is set to continue close to home first.
“We’ll probably look for a novice up north with a penalty and get some more experience into him before putting him into deeper company,” O’Keeffe added.
“If we can do that and win his next one, we will probably have to look at something a bit tougher – and from there we’ll decide where we go.
“It would be lovely to think he could end up in some race at Cheltenham. We haven’t made a firm plan – it will depend on what happens on his next couple of starts.
“We’re excited about him. He got a mark of 138 for his win at Sedgefield, which is very high for a novice, but in theory he’s going the right way.”