Jedd O’Keeffe is excited at stepping Sam Spinner up to three miles for the first time over fences in the Best Jumps Action On Racing TV Novices’ Chase at Wetherby on Friday.
The top-class staying hurdler dropped down to two miles three and a half furlongs for his debut over the bigger obstacles at the West Yorkshire track, and his stamina won the day as he led on the run-in to beat the Dan Skelton-trained Beakstown by three lengths.
O’Keeffe reports the Stayers’ Hurdle second to have thrived for the experience.
“He seems to be in very good shape. He had another schooling session on Saturday. He schooled great and we were 100 per cent happy with his jumping,” said the North Yorkshire handler.
“We’re looking forward to stepping him up to three miles. That should be in his favour and we’re hoping for a very good run.
“We were really happy the last day. Joe (Colliver) was very careful to make sure he got the jumping side of things right, but once it mattered, and he got racing, his jumping was great and he finished like a train, so I was very happy.
“That will have given him confidence and the trip will suit him better. We go there in a very positive frame of mind.”
Gutsy display! Ardlethen holds on well from the short-priced favourite Lisnagar Oscar to win for @harryskelton89 and @DSkeltonRacing on his first start over fences at @Chepstow_Racing… pic.twitter.com/f5gLHQzbik
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 11, 2019
Skelton gives Sam Spinner the highest respect, but is prepared to take him on again, this time with Ardlethen, who looks the main danger in the five-runner affair.
The six-year-old tackled almost three miles when striking first time over fences at Chepstow last month, when he put up a game performance to hold Lisnagar Oscar by a neck.
“Obviously he’s got Sam Spinner to take on over a trip Sam Spinner’s going to be even happier over, but I’m very happy with our horse,” said the Alcester handler.
“He jumped well at Chepstow and he’s ready to go again. I’m not afraid of taking on horses with him. I think he’s a nice horse.”
BORN SURVIVOR (IRE) & @harryskelton89 on their winning way in the Listed @bet365 Handicap Chase over 2m3½f at at Wetherby. The Liam Brady-bred son of the late Kings Theatre (IRE) was purchased at @Goffs1866 Land Rover Sale by Aiden Murphy for €36k. pic.twitter.com/MTmxPQ9Wro
— ITM (@IREthoroughbred) November 2, 2018
Elsewhere on the card, Skelton is hoping the ground does not deteriorate as Born Survivor bids to win the bet365 Handicap for the second year running.
It will be his first outing since he was successful at Ayr in April and has been rerouted to Wetherby after connections decided not to go for the Old Roan Handicap Chase at Aintree last weekend.
“He won it last year. I hope we don’t get too much rain. He’s in great form. He didn’t run in the Aintree race at the weekend because it was too soft,” said Skelton.
“I think he’s got a right chance if it’s not too soft.”
Born Survivor will spar again with Guitar Pete, who was beaten three and a quarter lengths in second place 12 months ago.
The Nicky Richards-trained nine-year-old is making his comeback following a slight injury he sustained after finishing third to Frodon in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December.
“He just had a minor setback in the field. We couldn’t just get it right. Anyway he seems to be fine now and it’s onwards and upwards,” said Richards.
“We’ll get the run under him and we might be heading for three miles at some stage through the season.
“This is an ideal starting point for him. He’s run well in the race before and we’ll take it from there after that.
“We’ll get the run into him and then see where we’re going.”
Alex Hales feels Mara Magdalena has earned the chance at Listed honours in the Weatherbys Hamilton Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle, after three wins over jumps since June, including once over the course and distance.
The Edgecote handler paid just 5,500 guineas for the filly out of Marco Botti’s stable in May.
“She’s been a cracking buy. I’m really happy with her. It’s a step up in grade, but I thought she deserves to take her chance,” said Hales.
“She’s a course and distance winner. She’s won three over hurdles, has got bags of experience and it looks a nice opportunity for her to have a go at a better graded race.”
The Skelton team look to Langer Dan, who made a successful racecourse bow at Ludlow three weeks ago.
“It’s a massive step up going into a Listed race, but he doesn’t have to carry a penalty. It will give us an idea of where we go next,” said Skelton.
Half Bolly and Nordano are the other unbeaten hurdlers among the nine runners.