Tag Archive for: Jedd O’Keeffe

Saisons shines as safety concerns cut short Beverley action

Jedd O’Keeffe’s Saisons D’Or was the star of a Beverley card which was abandoned after the fourth race due to safety concerns.

The seven-year-old was in action for the fifth time this year having already enjoyed a win and a second place for syndicate owners The Fatalists.

Piloted by Billy Garritty and priced at 5-1, the grey ran prominently and edged through a gap in the latter strides of the race to cross the line a head in front of Ruth Carr’s Reputation.

“He’s an absolute superstar, he’s been around with me since he was a foal,” O’Keeffe said.

“He’s ultra genuine, ultra tough. When things go right for him he’s a superstar.

“He’s owned by the syndicate, most of whom are from Yorkshire, but not all. Some have been in the syndicate with various horses for years, into the tens and teens of years. It’s fantastic that the horse rewards them time and again.

“He’s the perfect syndicate horse because he just tries so hard, he always goes there with some sort of a chance.”

Saisons D’Or was the last winner on the Wednesday afternoon card as only four of the scheduled eight races on the Westwood were run, the first three of which were held over five furlongs and therefore only used the section of track on the home straight.

When the seven-and-a-half-furlong Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Handicap was staged over a larger section of the track, however, riders reported their horses had slipped on the bend and the stewards were consulted.

After a group of jockeys and racecourse officials inspected the ground on the bend, it was agreed the surface was unsafe to race on and the meeting was abandoned.

Beverley Racecourse chief executive Sally Iggulden after the abandonment
Beverley Racecourse chief executive Sally Iggulden after the abandonment (Simon Marper/PA)

Sally Iggulden, chief executive at the track, said: “We moved the bend on to fresh ground, it’s a move that we do every year, two or three times, to push them on to the fresh ground.

“Today Danny Tudhope in particular felt his horse slipped several times and some of the other jockeys expressed concern about it. We’ve had a very lush growth of grass recently, we had a shower before racing and we haven’t watered for this meeting.

“The rest of the track has been riding great but the bend hasn’t felt safe and that’s the main concern.

“We’re racing again on Saturday and we will move the rail back into it’s original position, which will put them back on to their racing line from the first four race meetings this season.

“That should give them more traction, more grip, the grass isn’t as long there, and we’ll be carrying out more remedial work.

“We’ll be looking at inviting our racegoers back to a future meeting. I’ve been here 22 years and we’ve never had to abandon a race meeting mid-meeting – it is gutting for everyone.”

Burrow Seven continuing to make a difference

Burrow Seven, who has helped raise more than £100,000 for those affected by motor neurone disease and Leeds Hospital Charities, will now also be helping to save the planet.

The Jedd O’Keeffe-trained five year-old is owned by the Burrow Seven Racing Club, which was launched in November 2020 to raise money for former rugby league star Rob Burrow’s motor neurone disease Fight Back Fund.

The club has now partnered with sustainability company Play it Green to ensure it makes a positive environmental impact by planting a tree for each new member.

Burrow Seven is named after former Leeds Rhinos and England international Burrow, who retired five years ago and was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019.

A son of Kayf Tara, Burrow Seven has shown promise, finishing runner-up in a Hexham bumper on his second start and beaten just over two lengths on his last run, a three-mile-one-furlong novice hurdle at Carlisle.

O’Keeffe said: “He is in great shape. We were thrilled with his recent run when he stayed on strongly. The next opportunity for him could be on March 28 at Hexham.

“We will look at that, over a similar sort of trip and will probably keep going through April, as long as the ground doesn’t get too quick. He will go out in the field for a couple of months from May 1.

“We are getting there with him. He has proving he is a decent horse and is just going to keep on improving, so we are very happy.”

Phil Hawthorne, founder of Racing4Business and brainchild behind Burrow Seven, said: “The idea for this fundraising campaign was borne by my love of rugby league and passion for horse racing.

Burrow Seven (right) could have his next outing at Hexham
Burrow Seven (right) could have his next outing at Hexham (Simon Marper/PA)

“I have been really inspired by Rob’s battle with MND, and I wanted to create a Covid-friendly way to honour Rob’s legacy on the pitch and his heroism in his battle with MND.

“We’re delighted to have partnered with Play It Green to ensure we leave an even greater legacy for future generations, and I encourage you all to become a member of the Burrow Seven Racing Club.”

Chris Thair, co-founder of Play it Green, who previously spent two decades working in rugby league, added: “We aim to help build a bigger and better community of people and businesses to be part of this wonderful club and raise more funds in the fight against MND.”

Members of the club receive regular updates about the horse and the charities and also become part of the community following the horse, sharing experiences and stories.

Prize draws and an open day provides members with the opportunity to visit O’Keefe’s stables and be part of the owners’ enclosure on race days. Annual membership costs £59 via www.burrowseven.com.

Burrow Seven poised to make Wetherby hurdles debut

Jedd O’Keeffe’s Burrow Seven could make his hurdles debut at Wetherby on Saturday if the ground is suitably soft.

The five-year-old is owned by the Burrow Seven Racing Club, which was launched in November 2020 to raise money for former rugby league star Rob Burrow’s motor neurone disease Fight Back Fund.

Profits from the club are split equally between the MND Association and Leeds Hospital Charities, with funds raised so far totalling more than £100,000.

After a promising second in a Wetherby bumper earlier in the month, Burrow Seven was entered to run over obstacles for the first time at Doncaster last Friday but the dry conditions and subsequent good going precluded him from making the journey to South Yorkshire.

Jockey Oakley Brown and Rob Burrow pictured at Catterick in December
Jockey Oakley Brown and Rob Burrow pictured at Catterick in December (Simon Marper/PA)

The William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Novices’ Hurdle, run over two miles and three and a half furlongs, could be his next port of call at the weekend if the ground proves acceptable.

“Burrow Seven is in great shape and ready to run,” O’Keeffe said.

“We’ll be monitoring the weather forecasts and ground closely and as long as the ground doesn’t get too lively for him, I think he’ll be running.

“I’d run him on good to soft, preferably not faster than that and I’d definitely run him on slower.

“There was loads of promise (in his last bumper run), we were really happy with that and he can keep improving.

“His schooling has been excellent and we think a step up in trip will really help him too.”

York return under consideration for Strait Of Hormuz

Jedd O’Keeffe is likely to keep Strait Of Hormuz in Yorkshire for his next run following his excellent effort in defeat in the John Smith’s Cup.

The four-year-old came from well off the pace at York on Saturday to hold every chance in the final furlong, before eventually being beaten just a head and a nose into third place behind Johnny Drama.

O’Keeffe may take Strait Of Hormuz back to the Knavesmire for the Sky Bet Handicap over the same extended 10 furlongs on Ebor day, August 21.

There is also a race over a similar trip at Doncaster on July 31 which could be on his agenda.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” said the Leyburn trainer.

“We got excited for a second. I thought he’d just about got his head in front briefly.

“He ran a great race, and I was particularly pleased because it didn’t look a race where you could come from some way back. It was a great effort.”

It was informative too.

O’Keeffe added: “I think we’ve worked out that 10 furlongs is probably his optimum trip. He’s come out of the race brilliant, 100 per cent.

“There’s a handicap at Doncaster in just over two weeks’ time. That’s a possible.

“There’s a nice 10-furlong handicap back at York at the Ebor meeting. That’s under consideration, but we haven’t made any firm plans.”

Bumper debut in prospect for Burrow Seven

Jedd O’Keeffe describes Burrow Seven as an “exciting prospect” as he looks to give the four-year-old his racecourse debut in a bumper before putting him over hurdles.

There is no date yet for the grey’s first run, because the North Yorkshire trainer felt the son of Kayf Tara needed more time.

However, the horse who carries the hopes – as well as the name – of the Burrow Seven Racing Club, is now back in full work.

“We had to back off him for a little while. He was just telling us he was physically not quite ready,” said O’Keeffe.

“We had been bringing him towards a peak, but we decided to take a bit of a pull.

“He’s now back in ridden work every day, and we’re going to be making a plan.”

O’Keeffe will test Burrow Seven on the track only when he feels the time is right.

“We think he’s going to be a proper jumper who wants give in the ground,” he added.

“We might end up running out of time (this season) if everywhere dries up, but he’s in great shape at the moment. We’re really happy with him.

“He’s an exciting one for the future – we like him very much.

“We’re likely to be starting in a bumper. I would think next season he will be going over hurdles.”

All prize money won by the horse will go to the Burrow Seven Racing Club for research into the treatment of motor neurone disease.

Rob Burrow during his playing days for Leeds Rhinos
Rob Burrow during his playing days for Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA)

The club was created to gather donations for Rob Burrow’s Fightback Fund, itself launched after the former Leeds Rhinos scrum-half was diagnosed with MND in December 2019.

Within a month of its creation, the club had gathered sufficient interest to donate £50,000 to the fund – and that amount has more than doubled since.

O’Keeffe said: “As far as I’m aware, the fund-raising is going very well.

“It has been incredibly well supported, beyond anybody’s expectations.”

Ground to dictate Queen’s Cup plan for Rare Groove

Jedd O’Keeffe is to monitor the weather before deciding on Rare Groove’s participation in the Betway Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh on Saturday.

The North Yorkshire trainer will not risk the six-year-old entire on ground faster than good.

“We are going to tread quite carefully. I don’t think we need the going any quicker than good. It was good to soft this morning. They talk about bits of showers, but temperatures are rising so we are just monitoring the ground,” said O’Keeffe.

“If he doesn’t go there, we’ve got a race at Newcastle coming up not too far away and other options. We’re just don’t know.

“It’s the ground that will be the decider.”

Rare Groove made a highly-encouraging comeback after 559 days off the track when runner-up to Carnwennan over an extended two miles at Newcastle four weeks ago.

“It was an excellent run. We were absolutely thrilled,” O’Keeffe added.

“He’s in great shape and we’re looking forward to the season ahead with him.”

Rare Groove was among 25 five-day confirmations for the £75,000 heritage handicap over one mile and three-quarters.

The weights are headed by the Ian Williams-trained The Grand Visir, winner of the Ascot Stakes in 2019.

Williams has also left in Cardano, who is on a hat-trick after two wins at Lingfield.

Mark Johnston is responsible for six of the acceptors – Themaxwecan, King’s Advice, Trumpet Man, Notation, Hochfeld and Thai Terrier.

Paul Midgley has five of the 20 entries in the Betway Scottish Sprint Cup.

The North Yorkshire handler can choose from Indian Sounds, Latin Five, Orvar, Son And Sannie and Tarboosh.

Other possibles include John Quinn’s Lingfield Listed scorer Lord Riddiford, Mick Appleby’s veteran Caspian Prince and Tim Easterby’s pair of Copper Knight and Count D’Orsay.

The Johnston-trained Qaader, second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer, is one of 12 entries in the Betway Royal Mile Handicap.

Johnston has three other possibles in Forest Falcon, Ghost Rider and Naamoos, while Keith Dalgleish is two-handed with Gioia Cieca, who was fourth in a Listed race at Lingfield earlier this month, and Heights Of Abraham.

Syndicate launched in support of Rob Burrow’s charity fundraising

Racing and rugby league fans are being offered the chance to join a new syndicate aimed at raising money for former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow’s Fight Back Fund for the MND Association.

The Burrow Seven Racing Club, which is the brainchild of Racing4Business founder Phil Hawthorne, has been set up to honour the former Great Britain international, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last December.

Shares in Burrow Seven, who will be trained by Jedd O’Keeffe, cost £59 each, with all profits going to the MND Association to help fund a number of research projects trying to find a cure for the disease.

Helping get the project off the ground is Burrow’s close friend and former Rhinos team mate, Barrie McDermott, who believes the scheme is the ideal way for fans of both sports to help raise funds for the charity, while having some fun along the way.

He said: “I’ve been doing a bit of business with Phil Hawthorne for a few years and he is a big Wigan Warriors fan and big Rob Burrow fan. His passions are rugby league and horse racing.

“We started kicking a few ideas around as to how we could involve lots of people who wanted to help the fight towards MND and associate themselves with the mission to help Rob by having some fun as well.

“What we think we have here is something really inclusive, and Covid friendly. People who like horse racing can get involved, and people who don’t like horse racing but want to support Rob and put some money into his fund can as well.

“There are no limits as to how many can get involved. We could have a thousand, we could have 10,000. Our hope is we get as many people as possible and there is more demand than anything else we put together.”

Rob Burrow during his playing days with the Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA Images)
Rob Burrow during his playing days with the Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA Images)

Though Burrow, who played more than 490 games for the Rhinos during his career, has now lost the ability to walk, McDermott believes the syndicate will continue to give him a boost during difficult times.

McDermott added: “He is such a brave man and I’ve got so much respect for him. He is my mate and I’ve known him almost 20 years.

“What I’ve seen from him in the last 12 months – it’s really taken my breath away. He never feels sorry for himself and even though his speech is a bit of a struggle, there is always a laugh and a smile.

“Everybody that does something for him, whether that be a school raffle to raise £80, or somebody like his old team mate Kevin Sinfield, who is running seven marathons in seven days – or the Burrow Seven Racing Club – they get the same amount of gratitude from Rob.

“We are all just super proud of him and this light he is shining on this dreadful disease.”

Several names were put forward for the three-year-old gelding, who has spent pre-training with retired Gold Cup-winning handler Henrietta Knight, but in the opinion of McDermott, there was only ever going to be one winner.

He said: “I consulted Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire, lads who were really close to Rob. We had a couple of different options, but I said I liked Burrow Seven and all of them said ‘that’s perfect’.

“We couldn’t have the number seven, but the word is the next best thing. Rob Burrow and the number seven is synonymous with success and winning.

“We are really looking forward to getting him out on track and toasting a victory when he romps home at 25-1!”

Jedd O’Keeffe, left, who will train Burrow Seven (Dan Abraham/PA Images)
Jedd O’Keeffe, left, who will train Burrow Seven (Dan Abraham/PA Images)

McDermott joined Burrow and his family at O’Keeffe’s yard in North Yorkshire earlier this month to visit Burrow Seven, and he is confident they have a horse who can replicate Burrow’s fighting spirit, both on and off the pitch.

He added: “Jedd is a lovely fellow and he knows Rob and hopefully he will bring this character out in the horse.

“We are confident that Jedd and Andrea are the right people to be dealing with the horse as well. I’ve watched him on the gallops when Rob and I went to Middleham and he looks a cracker. He looks full of character and if he has got Rob’s fighting spirit and his desire, then I think we are on to a winner.”

After meeting his namesake, Burrow said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ve been excited about this fundraising campaign for some time, but meeting this magnificent racehorse was something else. I’m really honoured to have him named after me and I can’t wait to see him in his first race.

“Thank you to everyone who supports the MND Association by taking part. Research is the key to cure this disease. Together we can do it.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Burrow Seven Racing Club should visit www.burrowseven.com

Sam Spinner set to return to hurdles following Wetherby disappointment

Sam Spinner is likely to revert to hurdling as connections try to restore the horse’s confidence after he was pulled up in the Charlie Hall Chase on his comeback from injury.

Jedd O’Keeffe’s stable star was pulled up before the seventh fence in the Wetherby feature won by Cyrname on his first race since he damaged his pelvis when taking his unbeaten record over fences to three at Doncaster last December.

Jockey Joe Colliver decided to err on the side of caution and take Sam Spinner out of Saturday’s feature in which he was sent off 6-1 third favourite.

“He’s fine. He ate up everything on Saturday night and he trotted sound and he’s OK,” said O’Keeffe.

“Joe was just worried about him. He said the horse didn’t feel his usual self and wasn’t attacking his obstacles. He was worried if he pushed him too hard, something was going to go wrong.

“I’m very glad he acted cautiously.

“We think rather than it being a physical thing, we think it was probably more of a mental thing and his injury might have taken its toll in that respect.

“Assuming he’s OK in a couple of weeks, we’ll school him again and I think we’re going to have to switch back to hurdles for the time being and try to restore that confidence.”

O’Keeffe has no choice but to pitch Sam Spinner at a high level over the smaller obstacles and has named the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on November 27 as a probable target.

It would mean a possible clash with last year’s winner Paisley Park, who had Sam Spinner in second place when lifting the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2019.

“It’s going to be a difficult task because he can’t drop into any old race. It’s going to be a tough race he goes into – the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, probably,” said the Leyburn trainer.

“He could possibly come up against the likes of Paisley Park. We just have to restore his confidence and build on it and see where we are.”

Racing Insights, 14th October 2020

Wednesday's free feature of the day is the Trainer Statistics report, one of my favourites as you'd probably guess, so let's head straight there and it's the Trainer + Course 5 year form that interests me today and I've highlighted Jedd O'Keeffe purely because he has more than one runner tomorrow, but doesn't have too many to look at in one article...

As you can see he's comfortably above all my parameters for number of qualifiers, win & place percentage, A/E and IV, plus as an added bonus he's profitable at Industry SP at a rate of more than 50p in the pound. Tomorrow he runs two Class 3 hurdlers over 2 and 3 miles respectively on Good to Soft ground (with more rain due), both to be ridden by regular jockey Joe Colliver.

Both have been off the track for around seven months, but both were in great form when lockdown arrived and will be seeking to pick up where they left off, but you'll see that for yourself shortly on the racecards.

I want to start by looking at Jedd's 8 from 32 record here at Wetherby, because it's very important to understand exactly what a stat represents and not everyone might be aware that Jedd is a dual purpose (ie Flat & NH) trainer and that Wetherby is a dual purpose track, so for the purpose of today's analysis, I want to disregard hie Flat and Bumper (NH Flat) runners at this track, leaving us with the following over the past 41 months...

Even better figures that the starting point with the ROI more than doubling and with respect to today's races, those 14 Wetherby jumpers are (and forgive me if I go a bit statty here)...

  • 5 from 13 (38.5%) under Joe Colliver
  • 5 from 12 (41.7%) from male runners (not ideal for Miah Grace admittedly)
  • 4 from 12 (33.3%) with the word soft in the going description
  • 3 from 12 (25%) over hurdles
  • 2 from 8 (25%) over a 2m trip & 1 from 2 (50%) over 3 miles
  • and 1 from 2 (50%) at Class 3

Not huge sample sizes to hang your hat on, but the win % figures are promising and I now want to turn away from the query tool to look at the racecards, speed ratings, instant expert and the report suite for each race, starting with Mr Scrumpy as follows...

As you can see, Mr Scrumpy has two wins and a runner-up finish over the last year, he was a winner last time out at Newcastle in a Class 2 contest on Soft ground, having kicked off that sequence/season with a win here at Wetherby in early November in a 15-runner soft ground Class 3 affair. He'd been off the track for 201 days that time around, yet stayed on to win by four lengths, so a 214 day layoff doesn't concern me too much.

The reports back up the trainer statistic details and also show how well Jedd's horses get on with Joe Colliver on their backs generally and not just here at Wetherby.

The speed ratings for the race are as follows...

...and they too offer encouragement for those seeking to place a bet at a reasonable price. next up is the Instant Expert tab of the racecard and that doesn't really tell us very much...

...other than the first note of caution. Mr Scrumpy runs off 129 today, a career high and some 5lbs higher than his last run/win, so a best-ever performance is needed. That said, this is technically an easier race to win that either of last season's two successes and if in the right frame of mind first time up, 5lb might not be able to anchor him. After all, it's only a bag of spuds 😉

And now to the 5yr old mare, Miah Grace (reminds me a little of my 15 yr old daughter, Mia who herself is a bit of a mare sometimes but without the grace)...

...who like stablemate Mr Scrumpy was in fine form pre-lockdown, winning three times and placing twice from five efforts over hurdles under Joe Colliver. The runner-up finish was her only previous crack at the Wetherby hurdles, when beaten by just a length and a half over course and distance on soft ground. In fairness, that was a Class 2 contest and this should (on paper if nothing else) be an easier task.

Like the earlier race, the speed ratings show her in a favourable light...

...whilst Instant Expert again doesn't tell the whole story, but does point the way...

All her hurdling has been done on soft or worse ground at +/- half a furlong of today's trip under today's jockey, so she'll certainly be used to the conditions faced here, but like Mr Scrumpy, she also needs a career-best effort after being bumped up 9lbs for her last run/win of the previous campaign, so that might explain why she's twice the price of her stablemate.

Again, she's another who goes well after a break, her opening run/win last season came after six months off the track, so once again I'm not too peturbed about the lack of a run.

Summary

The stats point to good runs from both O'Keeffe hurdlers at Wetherby and I like the look of both. The only potential fly in the ointment has to be the increase in weight, but both horses have performed well in a higher grade suggesting they might be better than they'd need to be here. Clearly with a smaller hike in weight, Mr Scrumpy would seem to have a better chance, but at double digit odds, the mare might be a nice E/W flutter too.