Paisley Park starts bid to regain Stayers Hurdle title in Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle

Paisley Park won the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2019 - REUTERS
Paisley Park won the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2019 – REUTERS

Paisley Park starts his bid to regain his Stayers Hurdle title in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, a race his trainer Emma Lavelle describes as a Grade One in Grade Two clothing, at Newbury on Friday.

If there has been a hotter edition of this race in recent years I cannot remember it and Andrew Gemmell’s eight-year-old, who won this race last year but ran down the field at Cheltenham, after which he was found to have an irregular heartbeat, faces a host of young pretenders to his old crown as well as Lisnagar Oscar, the current Stayers Hurdle champion.

“Everything’s been perfect at home,” said Lavelle. “He’s in good form, he loved his trip to Newbury (for a gallop last week) and if he needs the race it’s because he’s older and wiser and not because we’re thinking his heart will jump out of rhythm again. He’ll come on for the race so I hope we’ve done enough.”

Paul Nicholls’s highly touted McFabulous was impressive in the Persian War and attempts three miles for the first time but he is a strong traveller and, one supposes, is not guaranteed to get home. Thyme Hill is another novice graduate who was not beaten far in the Albert Bartlett and could be a factor in the big staying hurdles this season.

But Paisley Park’s biggest threat could come from Henry Daly’s Honest Vic, a good winner of a Pertemps qualifier at Cheltenham earlier last month.

“We’ve got to find out whether he’s a good handicapper or a conditions horse,” explained Daly. “He’s got plenty of speed but gets the trip. It’s that lovely time of year when everyone is running their swans. There’ll be a few ducks tomorrow night but we hope ours is not one of them.”  

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