The Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot, Saturday 2.25) is widely accepted as England’s major trial for the World Hurdle. Since its inception in 1965, some of the best staying hurdlers have won this on-route winning the Stayer’s Crown at the Cheltenham Festival, including Baracouda, My Way De Solzen, Big Bucks and Thistlecrack.
Winners have been aged 5 to 9, whilst Paul Nicholls and Nick Williams have both notched-up hat-tricks, respectively with Big Bucks and Reve De Sivola. Meanwhile, Richard Johnson has ridden 3 of the last 10 winners, whilst Tom Scudamore has ridden 2.
11 Runners are set to line-up for the 2016 Long Walk Hurdle
Alex De Larredya
French Challenger who beat Ptit Zig on home soil in November, however had been beaten by the same horse over this distance in their previous encounter.
Runs like an out-and-out stayer with a serious engine, but sloppy jumping meant he could only get within 6-lengths of Unowhatimeanharry at Newbury last time. Interesting that Richard Johnson takes the mount, and his aggressive riding-style could bring about significant improvement.
Won his share of races, but often the bridesmaid at the top table. Much to like about his staying-on performance at Wetherby, when giving the first two home 8lb, but again may find one or two too classy even at level-weights.
Reve De Sivola
Miles behind Unowhatimeanharry and Ballyoptic at Newbury, but has run all his best races at Ascot, including a hat-trick of victories in this in 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as being second to the mighty Thistlecrack last year. 11-years-old now, and noticeable that his two regular jockeys Daryl Jacob and Richard Johnson are riding two of the younger horses.
May improve for the step-up to 3-miles, but it will have to bring about 18lb+ of improvement for him to be competitive.
Handicapper actually dropped him 3lb in the close season, but has since raised him 16lb after his demolition job at Newbury. Looks sure to be very hard to beat if he runs to that level of form, though yet to prove he handles Ascot, though there’s no reason why he shouldn’t.
Un Temps Pour Tout
Not the easiest of horses to get a handle on, as he has won at this trip over hurdles and fences, but often seems to get outstayed at the business end in competitive truly-run affairs. Tom Scudamore knows what it takes to win this though, and not ruled-out.
Novice Hurdler who runs for the same connections as last year’s winner Thistlecrack. Has 26lb to find with the top-rated horse though, and no obvious reason why he should find it.
Threw the 2014 renewal away in the closing stages, and doesn’t look in love with the game at the moment, be it the stable are in good form.
Surtee Du Burlais
Likeable mare who mixes chasing and hurdling to good effect, however must find around 20lb to get competitive.
2016 Long Walk Hurdle Summary
Unowhatimeanharry looked a classy staying-hurdler when accounting for a few of these at Newbury last time and, though his stable isn’t in as good a form as it was then, he will probably take some stopping. However, at the prices, I’m happy to risk Ballyoptic each-way. Staying looks his forte and, if Richard Johnson can improve his sloppy jumping, I think he could give the favourite plenty to think about.
Tip: Ballyoptic Each-Way @ 9/1 (Betvictor, Betfred) 1/5 odds 3 places
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