Sam Spinner New Stayers’ Hurdle Favourite Following Victory

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Anyone who followed the advice of freebets.co.uk last week and availed themselves of the 10-1 on offer about the Jedd O’Keeffe-trained Sam Spinner for Ascot’s Grade 1 JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle on Saturday will be feeling pleased with themselves today after the five-year-old’s all-the-way victory in the hands of regular pilot Joe Colliver.

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In beating L’Ami Serge by two and three quarter lengths not only did the son of Black Sam Bellamy provide his Middleham handler with a first Grade 1 win over hurdles but elevated himself to the head of the ante-post market for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. Also recommended by this column as being potentially excellent value at the 25-1 available last week for the stayers’ crown, the gelding is now no bigger than 6-1 for the stamina test on Thursday 15th March, and as short as 4-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral. Reigning champion Nichols Canyon is next best at a standout 7-1 with the latter bookmaker.

Having a horse of Sam Spinner’s calibre in his stable has provided O’Keeffe with a welcome change of fortune following his battle with throat cancer in 2011 and with the help of Sam Spinner’s owners – Paul and Caron Chapman – narrowly avoided financial ruin to establish a small but thriving operation. Having passed his greatest test to date with flying colours the gelding has earned a well-deserved rest and may now head straight to the festival for the Sun Bets-sponsored contest next March.

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O’Keeffe is optimistic yet more improvement could come from his charge who was having just his seventh start over hurdles at the Berkshire venue, saying: “ I’m absolutely thrilled. He was rated 136 at Chepstow and 139 at Haydock ( previous two starts ). He’s shot up the rankings and we had to take a bit of a leap of faith to come here but it paid off. We’ve got quite a nice horse. His jumping wasn’t as slick as I’ve seen it. Hopefully we can tidy that up and we might get another pound or two of improvement.”

It is hard to see any of the horses who finished behind Sam Spinner on Saturday turning the tables at the festival leaving potential Irish challengers – Nichols Canyon, Apples Jade, Penhill and Supasundae as the biggest threat to the main home contender.

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