Grade One Long Walk Hurdle Guide

Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
8
Richard Johnson

Thyme Hill

J:
 
Richard Johnson
T:
 
Philip Hobbs
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 160
Days: 22

The six year old gelding was remarkable last season winning three of his four contests in great style and showing a clear staying ability.

He started his life over hurdles at Chepstow in the Grade Two Persian War Novices Hurdle and seeing off some smart youngsters that have since gone on to frank that form including Grade One winner Fiddlerontheroof.

The gelding then went to Cheltenham in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle and again put in a strong winning run to enhance his credentials in this division.

He was destined for big things off the back of his third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season and fulfilled his potential for the term when landing the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury.

He was then sent back to Cheltenham in March for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and although suffering his first defeat over hurdles, he was a narrow fourth in a very hot Grade One.

The form of that race has worked out with the first, second and third since coming out and winning on their seasonal debuts.

Coming out of novice company on seasonal debut many were apprehensive as to how Thyme Hill would handle taking seasoned staying horses on first time out, but he was superb landing the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

The gelding saw off strong challenges from Paisley Park and McFabulous and it looks as though he will have to do it again on Saturday, seeking his second Grade One win of his career.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-72
27/11/20NBY24Gd11-31
13/03/20CHL24Sft11-54
28/12/19NBY20.5Sft11-71
16/11/19CHL21Sft11-51
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
2
Aidan Coleman

Paisley Park

J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Emma Lavelle
Age: 8
Weight: 11-7
OR: 165
Days: 22

Paisley Park showed he is back to his best this season after a superb second behind the young pretender Thyme Hill in the Grade Two Long Distance Cup at Newbury on his seasonal debut.

The eight year old at the Cheltenham festival last season was looking to extend his unbeaten run to eight races and also land back to back renewals of the Stayers Hurdle having been the horse to beat in they Stayers' Hurdle division, but it was not to be for the fan favourite.

After the race it was found that the son of Oscar had come back with an irregular heartbeat that was certainly the cause of his underwhelming run in the Grade One he dominated last season.

Now, the Andrew Gemmell owned horse is said to be back to his best having been given the all clear from the vets and the frequent winner has been wearing a heart monitor in pieces of his work at home and the problem has not resurfaced.

Although the gelding was taking on much younger horses on his return in November and giving weight away he still ran to a high standard and now off level weights on Saturday he should be feared.

The gelding is a national hunt fan favourite and his trainer Emma Lavelle believes he is more than ready for the Grade One contest on Saturday.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN24.5GS11-7P
18/03/21CHL24GS11-103
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-71
27/11/20NBY24Gd11-62
12/03/20CHL24Sft11-107
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
1
Fergus Gillard

Main Fact

J:
 
Fergus Gillard
T:
 
David Pipe
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 154
Days: 28

The David Pipe trained Main Fact has been a superstar yardstick and is now looking to land 10 consecutive wins for his trainer and punters believe he has a huge chance moving from 8/1 into 9/2 in the space of 24 hours.

The training performance from the Pipe team has been tremendous with the seven year old, staying on from a horrible position to land the Grade Three Stayers' Handicap Hurdle last time out.

The gelding had been running on both the flat and over hurdles and having up 15lb for this run, many thought that it would be impossible for him to win on his latest start.

However, with the heavy ground coming it saw off the challenge of some of the more prominent runners in the market and left Main Fact to power up the straight to victory.

This saw him land nine straight races in a row having been superb on both the flat and over hurdles this term and now Pipe is dreaming big with his stable star.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/03/21CHL24GS11-10P
20/02/21HAY24.5Sft11-64
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-77
21/11/20HAY24.5Sft10-111
04/11/20NOT16Sft9-41
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
10
Harry Skelton

Roksana

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 8
Weight: 11-0
OR: 153
Days: 49

Roksana for Dan and Harry Skelton is a live player in this event at a nice each way getting a 7lb mares allowance off the rest of the field.

Having been a shock winner of the Grade One Mares Hurdle in 2019 she has since placed in some nice events at Aintree and Cheltenham.

She went back to defend her crown at Cheltenham in March and could only finish fourth behind some star mares, but that form has since been franked.

Roksana made a credible seasonal debut for the yard when winning the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby in October and she has since been saved for this event.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN24.5GS11-02
16/03/21CHL20Sft11-53
23/01/21ASC23.5Sft11-61
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-03
31/10/20WET24Sft10-71
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
9
David Bass

Younevercall

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Kim Bailey
Age: 9
Weight: 11-7
OR: 156
Days: 40

Kim Bailey and David Bass have had a terrific season to date and they will be looking to extend their good fortune with Younevercall in this race.

However, it would be a big turn up for the books if this gelding landed this event looking like more like a horse for handicaps then Grade One events.

Having been smart two seasons ago winning on his only start over hurdles after a long break, he went over the flat next time out and finished last of 11 runner at Royal Ascot.

After another lengthy lay off he made his seasonal return in November at Kempton in a Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle and finished a nose second to Storm Goddess.

He will have to have come on a bunch for that run to get involved here and looks a very fragile type.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
24/04/21SAN21.5Gd11-01
18/03/21CHL24GS11-108
09/01/21KEM21Sft11-0P
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-74
09/11/20KEM21Gd11-122
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
5
Jonjo O'Neill Jr

The Worlds End

J:
 
Jonjo O'Neill Jr
T:
 
Olly Murphy
Age: 9
Weight: 11-7
OR: 155
Days: 63

The nine year old The Worlds End for Tom George stole the show last term, with only four runners heading to post due to the heavy ground, and this gelding coming out on top.

However, that piece of form is one of the only things the McNeill Family owned horse has going for him having been pulled up on his next two starts.

Last time out he was sent to France for his seasonal in a decent Grade One event and was totally outclassed and his connections will be hoping that the switch to Olly Murphy will see him back to his best.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/02/21HAY22.5Sft11-23
03/02/21WAR24Sft11-23
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-76
17/10/20AUT25.5Hy10-10P
15/02/20HAY24.5Hy11-8P
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
4
NON-RUNNER

The Jam Man

J:
 
NON-RUNNER
T:
 
Ronan M P McNally
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 148
Days: 28

The Jam Man is a horse best known for landing gambles for trainer/owner Ronan McNally but it would be a surprise if he was to land this event at 25/1.

The seven year old gelding is a very versatile horse having shown ability over fences, hurdles and on the flat in handicaps, but it now looks that he has met his match with most horses at the top level.

Having been pulled up in July at Galway over hurdles he was sent to run on the flat and ran nicely finishing second in Ireland twice and then winning at York in October.

Given a lovely mark for his first run over fences since 2019, he went on to win the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan by 18 lengths.

The handicapper penalised him for that so he was sent back over hurdles last time out and finished a fair sixth in the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle at Haydock behind Main Fact.

On that form alone he has a lot to do to catch up with the top class horses in this field.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
07/02/21LEO24Sft/Hy11-30
21/11/20HAY24.5Sft11-06
08/11/20NAV24Sft/Hy10-61
10/10/20YOR16.5Sft8-21
04/10/20KLN14Sft8-52
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
7

Thistlecrack

J:
 
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 12
Weight: 11-7
OR: 157
Days: 386

2015 winner of the Long Walk Hurdle Thistlecrack will make his seasonal debut in the same race he won five years ago, with his trainer Colin Tizzard expressing that even at the grand old age of 12, he is still in rude health.

The 2016 King George VI Chase winner is now a veteran in the sport and although having some great days behind him in the sport he will be looking to make new memories this term.

The 12 year old has not been seen for over a year now with his clash at Newbury with Paisley Park in the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle his last start on a track, when just narrowly being seen off by the star staying hurdler.

Thistlecrack is a Cheltenham festival winner landing the Stayers Hurdle in 2016 and also in the same year went on to land the prestigious Boxing Day King George VI Chase at Kempton as a novice over the bigger obstacles

Having also been a winner at the Grand National meeting the gelding has landed some of the best staying prizes possible over timber and if near his best has to be respected.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/11/19NBY24GS11-02
15/03/19CHL26.5GS11-10P
26/12/18KEM24GS11-102
24/11/18HAY25.5Gd11-73
26/12/17KEM24Sft11-104
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
6
Tom O'Brien

Third Wind

J:
 
Tom O'Brien
T:
 
Hughie Morrison
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 144
Days: 28

Third Wind for Hughie Morrison is one of the big outsiders heading into this race having shown fair form in handicap events but never been able to cut it at this level.

The six year old has mainly ran over hurdles all his life, showing he enjoys a staying contest and on the premises of his form should be closer in the market to other horses that are shorter.

Having finished a good fourth at last seasons Cheltenham festival in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle, He made a fair seasonal debut at Newbury in November finishing fifth in a Pertemps Qualifier.

Last time out he gave one of his best performances to date when a narrow second to Main Fact at Haydock and although that looks smart form it does not cut it at Grade One level and he must be better.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/02/21HAY24.5Sft11-21
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-75
21/11/20HAY24.5Sft10-122
05/11/20NBY24Gd11-125
12/03/20CHL24Sft11-14
Ascot - December 19 2020
Ascot 14:25
3
Gavin Sheehan

Portrush Ted

J:
 
Gavin Sheehan
T:
 
Warren Greatrex
Age: 8
Weight: 11-7
OR: 144
Days: 15

The final runner of the event is another staying stalwart that will give his running be may be outclassed by the horses at the top of the market.

Portrush Ted for Warren Greatrex is not afraid of winning having landed four of his last five events, including a career best performance last time out.

He is an out and out handicapping horse that won off top weight last time out at Sandown in a good Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier.

He will have to come on again for that run having to find 21lb on ratings against Paisley Park.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/12/20ASC24.5Hy11-7P
04/12/20SAN23.5Hy11-121
15/02/20HAY24.5Hy10-11F
02/01/20AYR21.5Sft11-121
01/08/18PER24Gd10-121

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