One cannot argue with the way Sam Spinner comfortably dealt with the Long Walk Hurdle field in December, winning with seemingly plenty more in the tank. With improvement likely, Jedd O’Keefe’s six year old is entitled to be favourite and having ran well at Chepstow on good to soft in October, course and ground conditions should prove no problem and everything seems to be in his favour come March. The 4/1 seems a generous price as if his silks had green and gold hoops or his trainer was named Nicky Henderson, Sam Spinner would be odds on.
With the unfortunate loss of last year’s winner Nichols Canyon, we are left with Lil Rockerfeller, Supasundae and possibly Yanworth representing the staying class of 2017. Lil Rockerfeller should not be dismissed as this tough, game, son of Hard Spun loves spring ground but three miles just seems to stretch him and it interesting to note that he has never won over this trip. His efforts at Wetherby and in the Long Walk can be dismissed as the ground was on the soft side and place claims beckon again @ 25/1. Supasundae is a solid yardstick in staying company only bested by the likes of Yanworth at Aintree and Apples Jade in both appearances this season. He should be thereabouts but is a little exposed now and there is no value @ 7/1.
The intriguing contender from last year is Yanworth. A quirky sort, he won well at Aintree on his only start at three miles giving the impression of the further the better so the stiff finish over this trip at Cheltenham will suit Alan King’s charge. That piece of form puts him five pounds clear of the nearest likely contender on Quickened Clear’s figures and connections must be tempted to go for this prize with the 12/1 worth a small investment.
Last year’s novices have left a little to be desired this season as The World’s End and Wholestone have slowly come to hand, there has been no sign of Albert Bartlett winner Penhill though Finian’s Oscar looks likely to pause his chasing career for a tilt at this. The World’s End should not be overlooked, is a talented individual and could well have been a dual grade one winning novice last season had he not fallen when upsides at Cheltenham. His run at Haydock on heavy can be dismissed but he travelled well in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last time and looked to have a good chance three out before becoming one paced after the second last. That gave cause for a little optimism and if he continues his progression in the Cleeve Hurdle on Saturday his price may well tumble with the prospect of faster conditions in the spring only aiding his cause. The 25/1 is worth a speculative wager. Wholestone showed his true self last time when beating Agrapart on New Year’s Day but will need to improve a fair amount to be competitive here while Finian’s Oscar, a point winner over three miles and top novice hurdler, reverts to hurdles on Saturday in the Cleeve Hurdle, a race which will tell us much more about potential challengers.
Thomas Campbell has to come into consideration and has done nothing wrong this season, improving every time but his hurdle form may have just plateaued after finishing thirteen lengths fifth to Sam Spinner. Beer Goggles will aim to build on his surprise victory in the long Distance Hurdle at Newbury but that form is looking weak now and all of The World’s End, Wholestone, Thomas Campbell and Finian’s Oscar need to improve to challenge the likes of Sam Spinner, Supasundae and the possible Yanworth.
Quickened Clear’s Antepost Bets:
Sam Spinner – 2pt win @ 4/1
Yanworth – 1pt win @ 12/1
The World’s End – 1pt win @ 25/1