RACE PREVIEW & TIPS (FRIDAY)

15:00 Newbury

The big race of the day sees a Grade 2 contest at Newbury get underway with the annual running of the Long Distance Hurdle. A massive trial for the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Some of the main protagonists are set to do battle prior to March and it’s great to see Sam Spinner, Unowhatimeanharry and Wholestone lineup. Although it may be unfair on the other runners it’s hard to see past this trio and unless a less experienced runner is going to provide a shock the winner looks likely to be from the three at the head of the market. Former festival victor Unowhatimeanharry is clearly the classiest horse in the race but at the age of 10 seems to be on the decline and after finishing 3rd behind Wholestone on his seasonal reappearance it looks a difficult task for Harry Fry’s runner to reverse the recent result.

Sam Spinner is mightily consistent and has only finished outside of the top 3 once in his entire national hunt career. A fifth in last years Stayers Hurdle is far from a negative and he looks a major player. Sadly with a very big break off the track I’m not sure if he’s going to need this run and although he has gone well fresh in the past it looks like Wholestone is going to be the one to beat. A win over today’s rival Unowhatimeanharry showed that he’s progressed further over the summer and although he finished stone last in this race that year subsequent efforts has seen him leave that result way behind.

WHOLESTONE (WIN) – NAP