Timeform's Ben Fearnley previews Saturday's Silver Trophy Handicap at Chepstow and picks out an each-way bet.
"He’s been kept up north for his six starts to date, but has impressed with his attitude and consistency, only being beaten by two horses during his whole career."
Chepstow's Silver Trophy often provides strong autumn handicap form and, though last year's winner Ballyoptic wasn't able to get his head in front again last season, he did go on to post a smart second in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle in December, while the race also provided starting points for the likes of Gerry Feilden winner Who Dares Wins and Betvictor Gold Cup winner Taquin du Seuil.
Wholestone is currently favourite for this year's renewal and has a very similar profile to Ballyoptic. Both are trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and both had won graded races over hurdles as novices in the previous season and, though Wholestone didn't manage a win at the highest level (like Ballyoptic), he won two Grade 2s and has been given a 3 lb lower opening handicap mark than the one Ballyoptic defied in 2016. Wholestone ended last season with a good third in the Albert Bartlett, but his best effort on Timeform ratings came when he won the Classic Novices' Hurdle over two and a half miles, so the drop back in trip for this is no concern, and he seems to have plenty going for him.
Many punters will end their search for the winner of this race there, and Wholestone does appear to have a solid chance, but current odds of around 5/1 don't exactly set the pulse racing. The same can be said about the next pair in the market, Bags Groove and Alary. The former was consistent and steadily progressive last season, winning two of his five starts (both at very short odds), and will no doubt have more to offer this season for his top yard, while the latter was touted as a potential Gold Cup contender when he joined Colin Tizzard last season, but has an awful lot to prove following a fairly disastrous spell for his new yard in which he failed to complete on his first two starts and was put in his place a long way from home in the Ryanair when last seen.
The likes of Le Rocher (who was no match for Camping Ground in the National Spirit when last seen but was progressing in handicaps prior to that), Peak To Peak (who'd be making his handicap debut for Paul Nicholls) and Wishing And Hoping (lightly raced both over hurdles and fences) are far from fully exposed and probably have more to offer, but one who appeals as being on a particularly good mark is Sam Spinner. He's been kept up north for his six starts to date, but has impressed with his attitude and consistency, only being beaten by two horses during his whole career. One of Sam Spinner's two defeats came when attempting to concede a penalty to subsequent Grade 1-placed Mount Mews at Kelso in December and that, along with his easy beating of subsequent scorers Master of Irony and Tonto's Spirit at Catterick in January, gives his form a solid look and means an opening handicap mark of 136 is probably a workable one.
His trainer Jedd O'Keeffe doesn't have many jumps horses but is finishing the Flat season in top form (two winners and three seconds from his last ten runners in that sphere), which bodes well for Sam Spinner's chances here, and odds of around 20/1 seem too big overall. Favourite Wholestone won't be easy to beat, but Sam Spinner is definitely an interesting each-way play, and seems a likely runner given the early jockey booking of Joe Colliver.
Win back and place back Sam Spinner for the Silver Trophy Handicap