The Long Walk Hurdle (Saturday 23 December, 2.25) is a Grade 1 Hurdle Race over 3-miles at Ascot. The field often contains contenders for the following year’s Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and several horses have gone on to do the double, including Big Bucks, Baracouda and Thistlecrack.
Winners have been aged five (1), six (1), seven (4), eight (3) and 9 (one)
6 winners had won last time out
All 10 winners had run 21 to 49 days previously
Nick Williams has trained 3 winners
6-year-old trained by Nick Williams, who has already won a Betfair Hurdle over 2-miles, and a Relkeel Hurdle over 2½ miles. He also beat L’Ami Serge and Lil Rockerfeller in the latter, but needs to come back to that level of form after 4 poor runs since.
Was conceding 6lb to Lil Rockerfeller when second to that re-opposing rival over 2½-miles at Ascot last time, and could easily reverse those placing off level-weights here. However, there’s mixed messages in regard to his stamina, as he’s won over further in France, but often looked a weak-finisher over shorter in Britain.
Has a tendency to thrown in the odd stinker, but he’s yet to run badly at Ascot where he has figures of 1/3/2/2/1. Was well-beaten by Unowhatimeanharry in last season’s renewal though, but finished in front of him at Cheltenham. At the age of 6, he could be an improved animal this season though.
5 wins in 8 outings shows he’s going the right way, and finished second in the other three. Last two runs were when carrying nice low-weights though and though he won by 17-lengths last time, the form has yet to be given any significant boosts.
Taquin De Seuil
Always fallen just short of top-class over hurdles and fences, and he was getting 6lb off Unowhatmeanharry (second) last time when third behind Beer Goggles. Level-weights this time, and tough ask.
The World’s End
Won 4 of his 8 races and, though he was disappointing last time behind Sam Spinner, the heavy ground was a reasonable excuse for him. Still has plenty to find though.
Relished the step up to 3-miles on his last two starts in handicap hurdles, the second of which he won off a mark of 149. That looked a decent effort, and hasn’t got to find much more improvement to trouble some of these.
Never previously suggested he’s up to this kind of grade, and his season is probably being targeted at the Grand National Meeting where he has enjoyed previous success. 13-month absence to overcome too.
Won this last year, but did so after winning the Newbury race he could only finish season in this year. However, the horse that beat him there Beer Goggles could be very special, but is absent here. That means this race should be run at a steady tempo, which should suit Unowhatimeanharry, who has run his 6 contests that have been run at a steady pace at this distance.
Unowhatimeanharry is unlikely to be getting any better at the age of 9, but could still have enough class to see off younger rivals who have the potential do to better. The one I fear most is Thomas Campbell now that his inform connections have worked out that 3-miles his trip, whilst Lil Rockerfeller could also give the favourite something to think about if on song.
2017 Long Walk Hurdle Tip: Unowhatimeanharry @ 2/1 Bet365, SkyBet