It was a Wednesday afternoon in West Yorkshire but the novice chase that took place at Wetherby Racecourse could well go down as one of the best early-season clashes we have between two budding novice chasers. Sam Spinner came out on top, beating the Dan Skelton trained Beakstown, with both of them showing enough promise to think they can win races this season, and in the case of Sam Spinner, win at a higher level.
Both horses showed a little inexperience when it came to jumping the bigger obstacles, although neither made any really big blunders. Beakstown is built for chasing and a nice big horse who will win races. And while Sam Spinner isn’t the same he certainly wasn’t phased by the big fences. We saw him refuse to jump twice last season before unseating his rider but he showed none of those characteristics and chasing could be the thing that switches him back on this campaign.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Sam Spinner in the race. Those who had backed him would have been a little worried half a mile from home. He was badly outpaced at this stage and left at the back of the field being pushed along. This was always a possibility when they quickened up over 2m3f, a trip well short of his optimum over hurdles.
However, as they turned for home, Sam Spinner found himself reeling back the front runners as he used his staying power to finish strongly. He reeled them all in except Beakstown before the last fence and a good jump there allowed him to get past the odds-on favourite and win the race.
If you are looking at his performance on a video, this wasn’t anything to get excited about. But when you add on what there is to come and how much improvement a step up in trip could bring out then there is no doubt that Sam Spinner is an exciting horse. He could well end up at the Cheltenham Festival in the RSA Chase next March, or if the O’Keeffe yard decides to remain up north, he can run at the Aintree Grand National Festival instead. He is currently on 16/1 ante-post with Paddy Power to win the RSA Chase.
Plans for the future have not been made just yet according to trainer Jedd O’Keeffe, however, he did say that for now, the horse would more than likely remain up north. It would be no surprise to see him step up in trip and run in another novice chase. He would carry a penalty next time out but he would gain more experience. We would also see how he travels going at a slightly slower pace over further, something that I think will suit him based on his hurdles runs.
In the longer term, Wetherby hosts a three-mile Grade Two novice chase in February, the Towton Chase, which would probably be seen as an ideal prep run for Cheltenham, if he continues to impress and shows he can run to that kind of level.