Leading trainer Philip Hobbs has confirmed that his Grade One winning stable star Thyme Hill will take up his entry on Saturday in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot which will see him renew his rivalry with leading stayer Paisley Park.
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 black type win of his career.
(Credit ATR) Hobbs said: “Thyme Hill had his last proper gallop before the race this morning, and he went particularly well.
“We’re very happy with him and intend to run.
“Everything has gone particularly well since Newbury. He’s been very healthy, very well – and most importantly he worked well this morning.
“Richard Johnson schools him on Thursday morning – and all being all right, we’ll be there on Saturday.
“I don’t see any reason that the testing track and the very soft ground should be a problem.”