The Long Walk Hurdle – Race Preview
Saturday’s feature horse race of the day is set to be the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. Run over three miles and one furlong, the Long Walk Hurdle is a Grade 1 contest with 14 hurdles to be jumped. One of the most prestigious staying hurdles races on the calendar, the Long Walk has been won by such horses as Lanzarote, Baracouda and Big Buck’s. Eight runners are set to go to post on Saturday as they look to add their name to the list of illustrious past winners.
The current ante-post favourite is Saphir Du Rheu trained by Paul Nicholls. Most recently seen over fences, Saphir Du Rheu went off favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month, eventually finishing fifth. Saturday’s race will be the first time that Saphir Du Rheu has been over the smaller obstacles since finishing second to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Many are questioning the decision to switch Saphir Du Rheu back to hurdles but at only six-years old, there is plenty time for him to develop into a top class chaser. With winning form on soft ground and fresh from his exertion over the fences, Saphir Du Rheu is very much the one to beat on Saturday.
The current ante-post second favourite is the Colin Tizzard trained Thistlecrack. With only 11 starts over jumps, Thistlecrack put in one of the performances of the season last time out, when defeating Cole Harden, Deputy Dan, Aqalim and Whisper to win the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. That victory shows that Thistlecrack is very much a rising star in the staying hurdlers ranks and if he can continue to improve, he will certainly give Saphir Du Rheu a race on Saturday.
Reve De Sivola is back to defend his Long Walk Hurdle crown having won the race for the past three years. Each year he has come into the race against highly fancied horses and on each occasion he has shown fantastic bravery to see them all off and take victory. Now at the age of ten, it would be his best performance yet to win this year’s race but with such an admirable record in the race, few would bet against him making it a record fourth victory in the race.
Deputy Dan finished second to Thistlecrack in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and connections feel he may have won the race if he had not put in a bad jump at the last obstacle. Although he is open to improvement, it would take a big step up on what he has shown so far to defeat the front trio in the betting.
Saturday’s field is completed by Dynaste for Daivd Pipe, Aqalim trained by John Ferguson, Tagliatelle for Irish trainer Gordon Elliot and the Alan King trained Karezak.
Saphir Du Rheu is the 3 (2/1) ante-post favourite with Thistlecrack the current ante-post second favourite at 3.25 (9/4). Reve De Sivola is 5.5 (9/2) and Deputy Dan is 13 (12/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Long Walk Hurdle is Saphir Du Rheu at 3 (2/1).
By: Scott McGlynn