Joe Colliver hoping to maintain Sam Spinner partnership despite court date

Jockey seeking to defer drink-driving hearing to take Festival ride

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Trainer Jedd O’Keeffe is optimistic Joe Colliver can take the ride on Sam Spinner at Cheltenham on Thursday, despite the jockey having a court case pending.

Colliver is facing a charge of drink driving and the case is scheduled to be heard at Harrogate Magistrates Court on the same day as Sam Spinner runs in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.

However, Colliver’s legal team are looking to defer the date to allow Colliver to continue his association with O’Keeffe’s Grade One-winning hurdler.

Colliver put O’Keeffe in the picture after he partnered Sam Spinner in a schooling season at the trainer’s Leyburn stables on Friday morning.

“Obviously I’ve had a chance to talk to Joe now. His barrister is hoping to get the hearing deferred so he can ride at Cheltenham on Thursday,” said O’Keeffe.

“As it stands at the moment he will ride Sam Spinner. I’ve had a discussion with the horse’s owner and that’s where we are.

“Hopefully he can ride the horse. I’ve had a chat with Joe about how he is in himself. He’s clearly disappointed and worried, but he feels he’s in a good place to ride the horse.

“He doesn’t think it will have any affect on his ability to ride and I agree with that.

“Hopefully it won’t have too much impact on Thursday.”

Colliver, 27, has had to rebuild his career after serving three months of a 10-month prison sentence in 2016.

He was charged with drink driving after crashing his car on Christmas night in 2015, but got a friend to claim he had been behind the wheel. Evidence found in the car disproved the story and both pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sam Spinner gave Colliver his biggest success with victory in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December 2017.

Looking ahead to the race, O’Keeffe was delighted with Sam Spinner’s final schooling session before the Festival.

“The schooling session went brilliantly, really well,” he said.

“He jumped our two flights of French hurdles three times. When he was long he was brilliant, when he was short he was brilliant. He made a great shape.

“I couldn’t have been happier. Everything was perfect. We’re feeling confident.

“He’ll just have easy gallops now. He’s done all his main work. I’m 100 per cent happy with him and happy they are getting a bit of rain down there.”

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