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The Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle: Each runner under the spotlight and a 20-1 tip

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Thu 26 Nov 2020

Most of the leading British-trained staying hurdlers are set to line-up for what promises to be a highly informative Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.

The three-mile contest usually attracts a small number of runners but not this year with the biggest field since 1996, when 11 ran, assembled. Three of the first four home that day were Irish-trained but the prize is going to be staying at home this year with no raiders taking part.

Paisley Park (a top-priced 7-1), McFabulous (12-1) and Thyme Hills (also 12-1) are all prominent in the Stayers’ Hurdle market, while Lisnagar Oscar, the 50-1 winner of that race in March, is also in the line-up.

Four of the field are Cheltenham Festival winners – Lisnagar Oscar, Paisley Park, Summerville Boy and Aux Ptits Soins – while Thyme Hill and Sam Spinner have gone close at the meeting.

Here’s a guide to each runner.

1 LISNAGAR OSCAR

Official Rating: 160. Ladbrokes odds: 11-1

The Verdict: Our experts unpick the Stayers' Hurdle

Shock winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle in March and the fact that he’s 25-1 to retain his title this season tells you plenty. He faded to finish fourth on his return at Wetherby, although he was carrying a 6lb penalty and is entitled to be sharper for the run.

2 PAISLEY PARK

Official Rating: 167. Odds: 15-8

Firmly established as the best staying hurdler around until fluffing his lines at Cheltenham in March, when he was subsequently found to be suffering from a heart issue. He will be hard to beat if anywhere near his best but this is a much tougher renewal than he won last year and I’d imagine the first priority of his connections is for him to have a good experience.

3 SUMMERVILLE BOY

Official Rating: 156. Odds: 11-2

The 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner only had two spins over fences before that project was abandoned. Has re-established himself as a smart hurdler in the past year and showed his wellbeing when winning over 2m4f on his retur at Aintree. Yet to conclusively prove he is at his best over 3m but if he’s ever going to get the trip it will surely be here, on a flat track away from deeop ground.

4 McFABULOUS

Official Rating: 156. Odds: 5-2

McFabulous wins at Kempton in March

It has taken a little time for the triple bumper winner (including here) to click over hurdles but he was impressive when winning on his final start at Kempton last season, admittedly off a mark of 132, and routed his rivals in the Grade Two contest at Chepstow on his return. He’s in a much deeper race here over further but the half-brother of Waiting patiently is an exciting new kid on the block.

5 THYME HILL

Official Rating: 153. Odds: 11-2

Third toEnvoi Allen in the 2018 Champion Bumper before winning his first three races over hurdles, including the Grade One Challow Hurdle here. Was a close fourth in the Albert Bartlett when last seen in action and seems certain to make his presence flt in the staying division this campaign, with connections having resisted switchjing himn to fences.

6 AUX PTITS SOINS

Official Rating: 151. Odds: 25-1

The 2015 Coral Cup winner has not proved easy to train and returns from another lengthy break.Showed himself still capable of smart form the season beore last, when landing the Cleeve Hurdle plus a handicap at the Grand National Meeting but has to vulnerable in this company and likely to be considerately handled.

7 HONEST VIC

Official Rating: 150. Odds: 16-1

He’d had quite a bit of racing but was better than ever when easily landing a 3m handicap hurdle on his return at Cheltenham last month (watch above). That was a belated first run over the trip and he clearly relished it. Clearly has a bit to find on these terms but he’s fit, in-form and has no penalty so dangerous to rule him out of calculations at big odds.

8 ONE NIGHT IN MILAN

Official Rating: 142. Odds: 80-1

Faces a tough task on these terms and this is lkely to be a confidence-restorer as much as anything as he has not looked a antural in two starts over fences this term.

9 SAM SPINNER

Official Rating: 162. Odds: 16-1

Fifth when favouyrite for the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2018 and beat all bar paisley park 12 months later before switching to fences and winning his first three starts in that sphere. However, his campaign was curtailed by injury and he did not get far when pulled up in the Charlie Hall Chase on his return. Best watched here, for all that he’s favoured by the conditions of the race.

10 VISION DES FLOS

Official Rating: 152. Odds: 33-1

Has not taken his form to the next level over fences, having had his limitations exposed over hurdles. Switches back the smaller obstracles for the first time in more than a year and something to prove on various levels.

ANDY’S VERDCT

A cracking renewal but the pair who head the betting, Paisley Park and McFabulous, look worth taking on. The former has to prove his wellbeing, while the latter is priced up on style over substance.

Thyme Hill lacks a recent run on his first outing outside novice company, while the trip is a maximum for Summerville Boy. The door is open for an each-way play, then, and HONEST VIC, 16-1 with the sponsors and 20-1 elsewhere, fits the bill after his stylish handicap hurdle win over 3m at Cheltenham last month.

He seemed to relish belatedly trying the trip and could have more to offer, plus we know he’s fit and in-form with no penalty to carry. At the weights, he has little or nothing to find with several rivals much shorter in the betting.

1 HONEST VIC. 2 PAISLEY PARK. 3 SUMMERVILLE BOY

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