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Long Walk Hurdle preview

It might be Christmas time with racing winding down until it gets serious again on Boxing Day, but there's a decent G1 at Ascot tomorrow in the Long Walk Hurdle. Regular contributor Jon da Silva, @CreamOnTop, is never afraid to have an opinion....

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WESSEX YOUTH TRUST LONG WALK HURDLE

Assuming the Wessex Youth Trust did not put up money it does show the power of Ascot to fund a Grade 1 race. Of course the Youth Trust is the official charity of the renamed Prince Edward now the Duke of Wessex - one assumes for similar reasons to Windscale being renamed Sellafield, nuclear mishap after nuclear mishap still at least he did not marry Fergie or that mentalist Spencer.

I believe this race is the most stamina sapping Grade 1 in the calendar more so than the Stayers AKA World Hurdle which cut from 3m 2f to 3 miles when it changed courses at Cheltenham and some dodgy stayers have won/nearly won that. Ascot's last mile whilst not as steep as Cheltenham's final 2F is against the collar with no lung-filling breather.

At Fishers Cross 8/15
One of those who has been adopted by the National Hunt fans cos he won a novice race at the Cheltenham festival - see Michael Owen in football make a splash at 18 and never get any better and no one notices, sadly in racing people notice as your record lacks 1s. He's good and looked like being at least 2nd to Celestial Halo when landing awkwardly having bucked in the air (Quit?). The prevailing assumption he would have won last time but for the mistake seemed to me fanciful as Celestial Halo had a ton left and would be the faster horse. OR 161. The Pretender.

Reve de Sivola 7/2
Reve was well beaten at pan-flat Newbury by Celestial Halo and would also have been well beaten by At Fishers Cross (AFC) too but for that one's error. Off the bit the whole way it seemed in the World Hurdle in 4th behind a Solwhit/Celestial Halo 1 2. On heavy ground he strolled in 14 wickets clear of Smad Place (3rd in that World Hurdle) here last year. Chance really determined by the ground for me and needs most of the 26 furlongs. OR 160. The Holder.

Salubrious 9/1
Second last week in the Relkeel Hurdle. Prior ran well in a handicap and up to OR 153. No obvious reason for him to improve for further based on form. Beaten 6L over 19F at Newbury by AFC and 7.5L over 21F at Newbury by African Gold (2nd to AFC at Chel). May get run of the race up front but would require improvement (8 pounds on Official Ratings with AFC) or an under perform by the front 2 (possible) and had a hard slog last week to boot.

Time For Rupert 12/1
Been off a year and a half and chasing prior. Breaks blood vessels. However when a hurdler would have had some chance here having been beaten 5L by Mudlark Tidal Bay in the Cleeve and 3.5 into 2nd in the World Hurdle by Big Buck's both of whom might be fav here (BB certainly). You can make a case for him but it's been a long time since he showed top class form in any discipline. Beating The Giant Bolster on a flat track in retrospect did not make him a Gold Cup contender.

Sidebar: What a shame Tidal Bay never faced Big Buck's on soft/heavy ground OK BB likely have won but it would have been 2 furlongs to the rest.

Tweedledrum Any Price You Like
This horse has no chance and has been entered for prize-money and if he picks off something that tries to win or there is a non runner the 2 grand guaranteed goes to 4 grand. Entered elsewhere to boot.

Conclusion

There is a chance AFC is the dog's bollocks still and would have beaten the selection hollow at Newbury if he had not jumped one badly. Salubrious would have some sort of chance but I suspect a lot of use will be made of Reve here and there will be no advantage to a front runner. Time for Rupert returns and with his bleeding and physical problems is probably best caught first time up (it's not necessarily a great training performance when they win off breaks - following up is the training performance!).

However this is the race that should bring out the best in Reve de Sivola and the form of his win last year is the best on offer. Poor runs since would mostly be when speed was needed and this is his patch.

2 pts Reve de Sivola 7/2 (on my 1pt or 2pt scale yes I bet like a Limit Poker game)

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