Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle (14.25 Saturday) has to be one of the most aptly named races of the year, and the 3 mile 1 furlong trip takes some getting.
Only two horses have won the race in the last 6 years, with a hat-trick by Big Bucks followed by a hat-trick by Reve De Sivola, who return in a big to match the feat of the might Barracuda in winning this 4 times.
8 runners are set to go to post for this year’s renewal.
Finished 7-lengths behind the re-opposing Thistlecrack at Newbury last month, and had the advantage of being race-fit and receiving 4lb from the winner. Tough ask.
Deputy Dan 12/1
Finished 6-lengths second to Thistlecrack in the above race, after seeing plenty of money for him, and no obvious reason he’ll reverse the form.
Can see him travelling well for a long way, and may trade shorter in running, but failed to see out this trip in the 2011 renewal when 19-lengths behind Big Bucks (maybe went off too fast). However, he’s always given the impression that trips in excess of 3-miles on soft ground are just beyond him.
Looks just the type to benefit from a step-up to 3-miles, and may attract money for in-form stable, but has to find a lot with the principals.
Reve De Sivola 9/2
This is his number one aim for the season as he bids for a 4th straight win. The ground should be soft enough for him, and the others will have to be 100% to get by him. Stable’s other two stars Tea For Two an Aubusson have both won this month. Richard Johnson, who seems to ride him best, is also back on board after missing last year’s win.
Saphir Du Rheu 9/4
His second in last year’s world hurdle shows he’s got the class for this, but the worries are his hard race in the Hennessey and the in-and-out form of the Nicholls stable.
Dare I say I’ll be amazed if he’s pasta the post first, though he did win decent handicap on his only try over 3-miles. Looks out-classed.
His last 3 runs, all over 3 miles, and with Tom Scudamore riding, have showed him to be a top-class stayer in the making. He was also very impressive when winning a 2-mile novice race here last year on soft ground. The negative is the poor form of the Tizzard stable in December, just one winner from 27 runners.
It’s impossible to rule out either Thistlecrack or Saphir Du Rheu but, with doubts about the form of their stables, I’d much sooner back Reve De Sivola in his big for a four-timer.
Reve De Sivola @ 9/2 each-way (Stan James) ¼ odds 3 places