Wetherby: 12.40 Aardwolf, 1.15 Pennywell, 1.50 Very First Time, 2.25 Jammin Masters, 2.55 Joseph Mercer, 3.25 Up To No Good. Southwell: 12.55 Magic Pulse, 1.30 Heather Lark, 2.05 Aiya (nb), 2.40 Ghaseedah (nap), 3.10 Declamation, 3.40 Alternate Route. Kempton: 5.45 Inuk, 6.15 Mistry, 6.45 Deer Song, 7.15 Night Of Glory, 7.45 Erinyes, 8.15 Temeraire, 8.45 Happy Escape. The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Horse racing The 49-year-old trainer tells me he’s basically a Flat trainer who only has six jumpers in his Middleham yard, yet one of them is now a Grade One winner, having bagged the Long Walk two days before Christmas. For anyone who’s had enough of jump racing’s major prizes being dominated by Gigginstown, McManus, Wylie and Ricci, here is the antidote. “We can’t believe it,” O’Keeffe told me this week. “We’re still pinching ourselves. It is a little bit like we’re in dreamland. “I’ve been to the Festival any number of times but never had a runner there. Going will be very special and going with one with a chance, potentially even one that’s a favourite, I don’t know if I can quite comprehend it at the moment.”For all that excitement, there’s no doubt that O’Keeffe knows what to do with a good horse and it’s worth remembering that his Flat horses also reached new peaks last year, when two of them won Listed races on back-to-back days. He has already mapped out the rest of this campaign for Sam Spinner. “I’m probably going to give him another couple of weeks easy now, probably won’t even ride him at all. So he will have had a proper midseason break and then we’ll just gently bring him back, aim him for March. I may take him to Newcastle for a gallop on the all-weather, about three to four weeks before Cheltenham, just to make sure he’s properly tuned up. But that’s only a maybe because he really is a very easy horse to keep fit.“There are a couple of big targets after Cheltenham, at Aintree and possibly Punchestown. And I am just toying with the idea of the race that L’Ami Serge won last year, the French Champion Hurdle. So he could keep going for quite some time.” Support The Guardian Hide features Quick guide Tips for Friday 5 January races Show … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. O’Faolains Boy can breathe life into Rebecca Curtis’ difficult season Share on Messenger Thank you for your feedback. Share on Facebook Topics Talking Horses Cheltenham Festival Horse racing tips Share via Email O’Keeffe laughed when I said it must be fun to be tilting at such races. “I can’t believe I’m actually saying the words,” he said. In similar vein, I can’t believe I’m seeing just Even money about Ghaseedah, who was napped at Southwell today in the hope of twice those odds. Aiya (2.05) is looking a more appealing bet in the previous race, at the currently available 4-1. From the Andrew Balding yard that does well at this track (29% in recent seasons), Aiya is by a sire whose first two Southwell runners have both won. A half-brother to the moody Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire, he makes his handicap debut off a modest rating. The handicapper didn’t have much to go on, in fairness, since Aiya was entitled to be stuffed in two tries over six furlongs early in his juvenile season. He showed a bit more on his third start, at Lingfield in November, and should be a bit less green this time. Having cost Leicester City’s owner a quarter of a million, it’s about time he started winning.Alternate Route (3.40) looks the right favourite in the last, an amateur riders race in which he has the considerable benefit of Simon Walker aboard. Fibresand may very well suit this ponderous Sir Mark Prescott type. Wetherby’s card has, alas, been lost to waterlogging, so we are bereft of jumps action today. Hopefully, we’ll have some at Sandown and Chepstow tomorrow. Today’s best bets, by Chris CookWhen Sam Spinner lines up for the Stayers’ Hurdle in a couple of months’ time, a race for which he is currently the clear favourite, he will be Jedd O’Keeffe’s very first runner at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s a fact that illustrates just how unlikely the Sam Spinner story is, a top-class racehorse landing in the laps of a low-profile outfit who paid just £12,000 for him less than three years ago. Share on WhatsApp Read more Read more Share on LinkedIn Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter Reuse this content Was this helpful?