Sam’s Adventure digs deep in Eider

Sam’s Adventure provided local trainer Brian Ellison with a popular win in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle.

North-east native Ellison, who was born on Northumberland Plate day, had already celebrated one big prize this season with his staying chaser, who won the Tommy Whittle at Haydock.

Unusually run in spring-like conditions this season, it certainly made for an enjoyable contest with half a dozen or more still in with a chance turning for home.

Springfield Fox had made the running, tracked by The Dutchman who was still going well when unseating Sean Quinlan just before the final bend.

Cyclop, previous winner Crosspark and Salty Boy were all in with a chance, but it was Sam’s Adventure and Crossley Tender who pulled clear.

Henry Brooke appeared to have done everything right on Sam’s Adventure, but when he got in tight to the last the 15-2 chance appeared to have thrown it away.

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But to his credit Sam’s Adventure battled back and got home by three-quarters of length.

Having shown stamina is not an issue, Sam’s Adventure will have the Grand National as his aim next season – but he will not run again in this campaign.

“I thought we’d lost it at the last, I must admit,” said Ellison.

“Henry actually said it probably helped him as he didn’t want to be in front that long, but he had no option to go when he did.

“He’s been such a good horse for us. That’s his second decent pot this year, he won a decent prize at Uttoxeter last season and also won a valuable bumper at Newbury.

“He didn’t jump hurdles great, but he’s far better over fences, he’s quite clever.

“He won’t run in the Midlands National. He’s on holiday now, he’s done enough this season. The target next year might be the Grand National – if Julie (Martin, joint-owner with her husband, Phil) let’s me!

“He’ll have a nice long break, we’ll start him off about Christmas with the aim of the National, because he’s so laid back it will take him a race to get back into it.”

Ellison came very close to winning the Northumberland Plate in 2016 with Seamour who shot clear but was caught close home by Antiquarium and admitted to having a flashback.

“I could see the other horse still going well, but when we jumped the second-last I thought we’d won. Of course he then blew the last and I thought ‘not again’.

“It’s great for Phil and Julie, though, because one of their other horses, Forest Bihan, was supposed to run today but got injured this morning and that might be it for him, he might not run again.”

Sam’s set for another Adventure at Haydock

Brian Ellison is keen to tackle Saturday’s Peter Marsh Limited Handicap Chase at Haydock with Sam’s Adventure.

Sam’s Adventure won over the same extended three miles and one furlong when claiming last month’s Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at the track, taking up the lead at the last before going on to score by four lengths.

The nine-year-old triumphed on heavy ground that day and with a wet forecast and possible snow in prospect this week, Ellison is confident his charge will deal with conditions.

He said: “Sam’s Adventure is in good form and the plan is for him to run in the Peter Marsh Chase on Saturday.

“This race has been the target since his last win at Haydock where he was very impressive.

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“He stays the trip and handles testing conditions, so we would be hopeful of a good run.

“It looks a competitive race judging by the entries, but you would expect that and we are looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”

Cap Du Nord also features among 18 entries for the race and he could clash again with the 156-rated Royal Pagaille, who beat him by three and a quarter lengths at Kempton last month.

However, trainer Christian Williams is favouring waiting a week with the eight-year-old and heading to Doncaster instead.

He said: “Cap Du Nord is a possible for the Peter Marsh Chase, but I think the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster is our first preference.

“We entered just in case Royale Pagaille doesn’t turn up at Haydock, but we are leaning towards Doncaster.”

The Peter Marsh is one of four Grade Two heats on Saturday’s card, with the New One Unibet Hurdle set to feature the return of dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air.

Only five have been entered for the two-mile heat and Donald McCain could let Navajo Pass, an impressive winner of a Musselburgh handicap on New Year’s Day and fourth in last year’s Triumph Hurdle, take his chance.

He said: “It is very possible that Navajo Pass will run in the New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

“We’re very limited really in where we can go with him.

“It looks like being a very competitive race with the likes of Buveur D’Air set to run.

“He ran earlier this month so it is quite a quick turnaround, but there is every possibility that he will run.

“It was a good performance at Musselburgh and hopefully there is still plenty more to come from him.”

Sam’s Adventure earns break after Tommy Whittle triumph

Brian Ellison will ensure Sam’s Adventure has time to recover from his Haydock exertions before choosing the Tommy Whittle winner’s next target.

Pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle in early November, Sam’s Adventure then fared only marginally better when a well-beaten fifth at Haydock three weeks later.

However, the eight-year-old showed his true colours on his return to Merseyside for Saturday’s Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase, pulling four lengths clear in the hands of champion jockey Brian Hughes.

Ellison was not present for the win, but said on Monday: “I was delighted with him. He did it well and came back to form.

“He was disappointing at Carlisle, but (jockey) Henry (Brooke) said afterwards he doesn’t like going right-handed. Then at Haydock the next day, a couple of horses fell in front of him, and he just walked over them, and it knocked him right out of contention.”

Sam’s Adventure is in fine shape after the weekend, but Ellison is wary of pressing on again too quickly after such a stamina test in heavy ground.

“I’ve not really got anything in mind for him,” the Malton trainer added.

“He seems to have come out of the race fine, but I wouldn’t run him back in a hurry, because these races take a lot out of them.

“He’s been a good horse for us. He won a nice race at Newcastle over hurdles and won a £40,000 chase at Uttoxeter last year.”

Resurgent Sam’s Adventure takes control in Tommy Whittle

Sam’s Adventure bounced back to form with a strong, staying performance to win the Betfair Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock.

After two runs last month, Brian Ellison’s eight-year-old was razor sharp for the feature race on the card – and he duly produced the goods.

There was plenty of drama, however, with several horses failing to finish.

Early leader Roll Again was one, unseating his rider and then sadly having to be put down after injuring his spine in a fall while loose.

Crixus’s Escape and Enqarde also exited the race, while Pop Rockstar was twice badly hampered before finishing last.

Held up out of harm’s way by champion jockey Brian Hughes in the early stages of the near three-and-a-quarter-mile event, Sam’s Adventure (14-1) crept into contention in the straight.

The well-fancied Sojourn hit the front at the third-last, but Sam’s Adventure was biding his time.

Produced by Hughes to lead at the final fence, he galloped on resolutely to take the prize by four lengths from Sojourn.

Salty Boy was two and a quarter lengths further back in third, with Highest Sun another length away in fourth place.

The win completed a 149-1 double for Hughes, following his earlier success on Albert’s Back.

“It’s been a great day now. He had a chance on the best of his form,” said the champion jockey.

“He’s a good jumper, stays well – and although he got beaten the last day, he was interfered with down the back here and did well to stand up.

“He’s a horse Brian (Ellison) fancied coming here today – and he was right.

“He’s a big old lad, and it’s probably taken a couple of runs for him to come to hand.

“Brian and his team had him in great shape coming here today, so it’s no surprise to them anyway. It is to me, but not to them, and it’s great to win a race for (owners) Julie and Phil Martin in Julie’s colours. Brilliant.”