Ian Balding, Spinning's trainer, attributes the gelding's new-found resolve entirely to the salutary effect of last winter's campaign over timber.
The five-year-old, three times a winner on the Flat this season, is now beginning to reverse one of the sport's greatest falls from grace. Three years ago, Classics were entertained for the son of Glint Of Gold after he won by seven lengths on his Newmarket debut.
A month later the darker side of his character emerged, however, when Spinning was all over the course before being virtually pulled up in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot, since when he has done as much hanging as the Tate Gallery curator.
Balding has employed all the trappings of an equine scoundrel, including blinkers and a net muzzle, to correct the horse's swerving, but it has been the course of National Hunt self-preservation that has eventually provided the key.
Spinning's finest moments this year have been at Goodwood's Glorious meeting, at which the gelding won twice in 48 hours, translating his gallops superiority over last season's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner, Selkirk, to the racecourse.
Spinning, who will be trained for the Champion Hurdle next March, beat Jahafil and Surrealist in the second of those victories, and faces the same rivals today in the three-runner Chester Stakes.
Small fields usually spell doom for horses like Spinning (2.40), who has to be produced with a late run, but as Jahafil will have to set a decent pace to make the most of his stamina, Ray Cochrane should have time to locate him in the crosshairs.
Other possibles at the Roodeye include Jack Berry's NEVER IN THE RED (nap 1.40) and Conspicuous (2.10), who is exceedingly well handicapped on his Bath second to Ventriquattrofogli.
Sandown features another horse who was plying the jumps tracks in the cold months, David Elsworth's Master Foodbroker (next best 4.45), who finished 22nd in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The gelding is presumably running in for another jumps season, but if he can progress just marginally from his seasonal debut at Goodwood he should claim a Flat success before he crosses codes.
Steve Cauthen has enjoyed a choice of rides in two of the other televised races, but even this luxury may not secure him a winner. Tudor Island (4.15) can upset the American's mount, Zalon, in the 10-furlong handicap, while Majestic Hawk (3.10) should beat Sharjah if you consider the words of his trainer Mohammed Moubarak. 'Majestic Hawk will improve right the way through the year,' the Newmarket trainer said recently, 'and I can see him rising to the top of the pile by the autumn.'
If the belief that sprint handicaps are just a haphazard means of handing out a prize to a different horse every time is correct then Joe Sugden (3.40) should succeed. The last time the gelding's name was pulled out of the hat was 38 outings ago.Reuse content