Weekend racing preview: Long Walk Hurdle the highlight of pre-Christmas racing action

The Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot is the highlight of the final weekend of racing action before Christmas.

Friday, 17th December 2021, 2:18 pm
Nico de Boinville riding Buzz (green) clear to win The Coral Hurdle at Ascot last month. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Nine runners go to post for the feature Grade One event with a prize fund of £105,000 and some old favourites in the contest, including dual winner Paisley Park along with Thyme Hill, Buzz and Champ.

We have taken a look at the pick of the action. For the latest horse racing betting check Boylesports.

The Long Walk Hurdle (2.25pm) is the pick of the weekend fare. Dual winner Paisley Park is bidding to record his first win of the season following two third-placed efforts already this season. However, there are slight doubts about his star fading slightly over timber and he looks up against it this time around.

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Buzz is indeed the buzz horse of the moment in the stayers division. Winner of the Cesarewitch Handicap on the Flat earlier this year, he made a winning return to action in good style at Ascot last month and he has to be high on the shortlist as he chases a first top-level success for Nicky Henderson, who also saddles On The Blind Side and the enigma that is Champ. The latter is named after Sir Anthony McCoy and he was pulled-up early in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last term. He makes his eagerly awaited reappearance here.

Irish raider Ronald Pump was a fine second to Honeysuckle for the second year in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse and also commands respect along with Thomas Darby who won the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. Former Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisngar Oscar and Third Wind are other runners.

However, preference is for Thyme Hill. He captured Grade One honours at Aintree last term and whilst he was a slightly disappointing fifth on his return in France last time out, he is taken to return to the form which saw him finish second in this race 12 months ago and he remains open to plenty more improvement.

The other highlight on the card is the Grade Three Exchange Trophy (3.35pm) which carries a prize fund of £105,000. Kingwell Hurdle hero Goshen will have to carry top-weight here, but he is a fascinating contender given he should be suited by ground conditions. Triumph Hurdle fifth Tritonic, Tolworth Hurdle hero Metier and the unexposed Samarrive are others to note.

West Cork won the Greatwood Hurdle last time out and he is another leading contender along with No Ordinary Joe who was third in that event. Onemorefortheroad has been a real success story this term and he could be capable of more improvement along with Benson and Mack The Man.

The £70,000 Listed Silver Cup (3m, 3.00pm) is another interesting contest which features former Ladbrokes Trophy hero Cloth Cap and Regal Encore who is a former winner of this race and is now a 13-year-old. Step Back is another classy customer on his day who demands respect along with Grand Sancy and Annsam. However, Belami Des Pictons has always been thought of as a smart prospect and despite injury troubles in recent years, he ran a race full of promise when fourth at Bangor on his comeback and he looks a leading player in this event.

Over at Haydock, the highlight is the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (2.40pm) in which Remastered who fell in the Ladbrokes Trophy when travelling powerfully looks to be a live contender for the feature on Merseyside.

ITV Racing selections

1.50pm Ascot – Palmers Hill

2.05pm Haydock – Boss Man Fred

2.25pm Ascot – Thyme Hill

2.40pm Haydock – Remastered

3.00pm Ascot – Belami Des Pictons

3.35pm Ascot – Goshen

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