Newbury Races: Sam Spinner renews rivalry with Paisley Park in Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle
Sam Spinner, runner-up to Paisley Park in last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle, returns to hurdles for only the second time since the 2019 Cheltenham Festival for a renewal of the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle that features the last two winners of this three mile crown.
The Jedd O’Keeffe trained jumper is among 10 declarations for another top quality running of the Grade 2 race at Newbury on Friday (27 November), the highlight of the first day of the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
The race includes not just Paisley Park, who will attempt to repeat last season’s success, but also Lisnagar Oscar, the surprise winner of the Stayers’ in March. Paisley Park was found to have been suffering from an irregular heartbeat after his seven race winning streak came to a halt with that race at Cheltenham and Friday’s contest will be his first race since then. Paisley's trainer Emma Lavelle says he has shown no signs of further problems and is race fit.
Sam Spinner is also on his way back from a setback after his unbeaten switch to fences ended prematurely when he fractured his pelvis. He was pulled up in the Charlie Hall Chase on his first start for 322 days last month.
“We haven’t turned away from fences, but we need to restore Sam Spinner’s confidence by going back over hurdles,” said his Middleham, Yorkshire trainer O’Keeffe. “When you are rated 162 the options are limited.”
“Everything is open as to whether he resumes his career over hurdles or goes back over fences. He is in good form at home, working well and has been schooling over hurdles really well. We just want to see him go there and enjoy himself, and of course do something.” Sam Spinner led for a long way in the 2019 Stayers’ and was coming back at Paisley Park, after being headed at the last, finishing two and three quarters lengths second, with Faugheen third.”
“It’s a while since he took on Paisley Park, but we are hoping that the horse hasn’t lost his ability, enthusiasm or confidence, but his injury was quite severe and it could take a little while to get back on track,” said O’Keeffe. “He ran in this race two years ago but he was beaten when a horse fell in front of him and he ducked to the side and unseated Joe Colliver. He had gone through a bit of a lull in his form at the time and went next to the Long Walk, the year after he won it, and unseated Joe at the second, before coming back to his very best. We are hoping he can do that again.”
Ladbrokes Betting: 15/8 Paisley Park, 5/2 McFabulous, 11/2 Summerville Boy, 13/2 Thyme Hill, 10/1 Lisnagar Oscar, 14/1 Sam Spinner, 18/1 Honest Vic, 22/1 Aux Ptits Soins, 28/1 Vision Des Flos, 80/1 One Night In Milan.