The preparation for Warrnambool’s Grand Annual Steeplechase has been a lot smoother for Spying On You the second time around.
The South Australian jumper ran fifth in last year’s 5500m marathon and lines up on Thursday as a last-start winner.
Spying On You won the Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank on April 15 after falling in that race 12 months earlier.
Trainer Grant Young admits to making a rookie mistake with the rising eight-year-old In the lead-up to last year’s Grand Annual.
On the Sunday before the race, Young took Spying On You from his Murray Bridge stables to give him a school over the Warrnambool steeplechase track.
Instead of staying in Warrnambool, Young took the jumper back to Murray Bridge, a return float trip of 14 hours.
“We went over on the Sunday and did a school and I showed a bit of rawness,” Young said.
“I should have stayed there but I decided to come home and then went back on the Thursday.”
To compound matters Young lost jockey Paul Hamblin who failed a breathalyser test on the morning of the race before later being cleared.
“We ended up with a jockey that didn’t know Grant Young, didn’t know Spying On You and had never ridden in a Grand Annual,” Young said.
“He basically just schooled around and eight days later he came out and won a steeplechase at Mount Gambier.
“That goes to show his constitution and it has readied him for this year.”
This year former Irish jockey Tom Ryan partners Spying On You having ridden the gelding to victory over 4950m at Oakbank.
Young is confident Spying On You can run the extra 600m and has full faith in Ryan.
“Tommy has found the secret to this horse,” Young said.
“He sits on him and lets him pop (over the jumps) which really suits him.
“Tom will ride him quietly for the first 2000 metres and then gradually let him improve, the same way he rode him at Oakbank.”
Young said Spying On You had not seen a jump since his Oakbank victory with the trainer preferring the surprise aspect.
“He can sometimes get a bit complacent,” Young said.
Spying On You is rated a $13 chance in what is considered one of the most open Grand Annuals for many years.
The Patrick Payne-trained Slowpoke Rodriguez is the $3.70 favourite ahead of Tuesday’s flat winner I’ll’ava’alf at $5.50.