French Champion Hurdle 'appealing' for Sam

Wed 3rd Jan 2018, 15:32

photoSam Spinner
©Healy Racing Photos
Sam Spinner could have the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil on his agenda if all goes well at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Jedd O'Keeffe confirmed that the Long Walk Hurdle winner would be heading straight to the Stayers' Hurdle in March but he is still likely to have a busy spring.

The Middleham handler told Press Association Sport: "He's absolutely brilliant, just having a holiday for the next week or two, and the plan is still to go straight to Cheltenham.

"The only races he could have run in before the Cheltenham Festival were the Cleeve (Cheltenham) and the Rendlesham (Haydock), but we didn't feel the need to do it as he's a very easy horse to keep fit.

"There are also one or two targets after Cheltenham, which meant we didn't want his season to end in March.

"So it will be Cheltenham, possibly Aintree, Punchestown and what is quite appealing is the French Champion Hurdle that L'Ami Serge won last year, which is a possibility as well.

"Heading to Haydock (in November) we didn't know if he'd go through heavy ground but now he's shown he has he's obviously very versatile.

"He's bred to be a chaser but he's not a huge, robust horse - he's very athletic. We still haven't schooled him over a fence so we just don't know.

"Whether we go that way I suppose will depend a little on how the remainder of this season goes and it will be a decision for his owners."

Asked how it feels to have a favourite for a championship race at the Cheltenham Festival in his yard, O'Keeffe said: "Strange. I'm still dreaming. I think, it's amazing."

Johnson back with a winner

Richard Johnson tasted victory on his first ride back from a short spell on the sidelines when steering Look My Way to glory in the Best Wishes For 2018 Juvenile Hurdle at Ludlow.

THE IRISH TIMES