Royal Ascot-winning Spencer targets triumph at Cheltenham

HIGH HOPES: Richard Spencer is confident Sir Jack Yeats has what it takes to win at the Cheltenham Festival
HIGH HOPES: Richard Spencer is confident Sir Jack Yeats has what it takes to win at the Cheltenham Festival

Richard Spencer is eager to follow up last year’s Royal Ascot glory with another landmark victory, this time at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.

In what was just his second season with a trainers’ licence, Albert House Stables-based Spencer watched on as 11/1 chance Rajasinghe landed the Group 2 Coventry Stakes ahead of the William Haggas-trained Headway.

And he is looking for more of the same from Sir Jack Yeats after the seven-year-old followed up a win at Market Rasen earlier this month by triumphing at Kelso last Thursday.

All roads now lead to Cheltenham and the St James’ Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase, which is due to be run on Friday, March 16.

The son of four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats is widely available as a 20/1 shot with the bookmakers to win down in Gloucestershire, and Spencer believes he is up to the challenge.

“He was purchased last year with a route to Cheltenham in mind,” said the former assistant to Michael Bell.

“God willing we can keep him in one piece, freshen him up and then we will head for the Foxhunter.

“I will only be pleased if he wins. I do not run horses for the sake of it.

“As a yard we give everything and are not doing it to make up the numbers. We will be going down there to win.

“We know we have a good horse on our hands — hopefully he shows that on the big stage.”

Sir Jack Yeats’ three outings in Spencer’s care — two wins and a third-placed finish — have come on either soft or heavy ground.

However, Spencer would prefer that the weather remained dry around the time of the Festival.

“We are learning about him all of the time,” he added.

“I was disappointed with his run at Hereford (third place) but I expected him to win there.

“We learned a lot from that run and after we switched to blinkers that made all the difference.

“He has won on most things over in Ireland and is a very versatile horse overall, but I am looking for it to stay dry.”

“He has shown he will take any type of conditions in his stride, but to me is a better-ground horse.”