We head to the Berkshire venue of Ascot this coming Saturday for a big pre-Christmas Grade 1, as the track lays on the 2019 edition of the race most commonly known as The Long Walk Hurdle. An excellent event in its own right, this contest also provides plenty of pointers when looking ahead to the major staying races still to come.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 21st December 2019
- Winner: The Worlds End
- SP: 15/8
- Trainer: Tom George
- Jockey: Adrian Heskin
Three miles and half a furlong is the trip for this Grade 1 Hurdle contest which offers £100,000 in guaranteed prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft with more rain forecast in the lead up to the race.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m½f||Grade 1||£100,000||6 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Long Walk Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Legendary French handler Francois Doumen holds the lead amongst trainers in this race, with his four wins all coming courtesy of the brilliant Baracouda. Of the trainers on show this year, both Emma Lavelle and Nicky Henderson have a win in the race to their name, but the best record belongs to Nick Williams who needs just one more success to draw level with Doumen. Williams sends Agrapart into battle this time around.
Relative youth has generally been favoured in this contest of late, with eight of the past nine to have come home in front being eight years old or younger. That stat speaks against the two nine year olds in this year’s field: L’Ami Serge and Tobefair.
The favourites have a rock solid 50% success rate in this event over the past ten years. With three of those wins being accounted for by Big Bucks at odds of between 2/13 and 1/2 though, backers of the jolly would still have been out of pocket to the tune of 0.85 points.
PAISLEY PARK – 1/4
Four horses have claimed top spot on more than one occasion in this over the years, including the aforementioned four-time winner, Baracouda, in addition to three-time champs Reve De Sivola and Big Bucks. If the market is to be believed then it would be something of a shock were we not to have a fifth member of that club at the end of the 2019 renewal, as the red-hot favourite for this year’s edition is Emma Lavelle’s defending champion, Paisley Park.
Beginning last season on a mark of 140, this son of Oscar ended the campaign having rocketed to a rating of 169 and established himself as the king of the hill in the staying division. A perfect five from five last term – including a first career Grade 1 in this race, and a thrilling success in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – he’s fully 14 pounds clear of the field on official ratings and undoubtedly the one they all have to beat on form. With his current wellbeing also assured following a comeback verdict over Thistlecrack in a Grade 2 at Newbury, it’s no real surprise to see him at such a short price for this.
THE WORLDS END – 9/1
Next in the betting comes the Tom George representative, The Worlds End. Now an eight year old, this one wasn’t far off being the best in the division back in the 2016-17 season, winning four of his first six starts – including the big Grade 1 at the Aintree Festival – he may well have claimed top spot in the Stayers’ Hurdle itself, but for coming to grief at the second last when still travelling well. If able to get back to anything like that level of form, he would look the horse most likely to at least give the favourite something to think about.
The Worlds End has however gone pretty badly off the boil since that 2016-17 campaign, with a spell over fences seemingly doing little to reignite the fire last season. However his two runs so far in the current campaign have been much more like it. A stylish winner of the Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby, he again put in a solid effort when third behind Paisley Park and Thistlecrack last time out, when only giving best after the final flight. He will likely need to improve on that if he is to lower the colours of the jolly, but that form does at least bring him into the picture.
L’AMI SERGE – 11/1
All being well, this race should also mark the return to the track of a real old favourite from the Nicky Henderson yard, as L’Ami Serge looks set for his first racecourse outing in 580 days. Three times a winner at the highest level, there’s no doubt that this Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned runner has the class to warrant a place in this line-up, but the question will be how close he can get to his peak form following such a significant injury absence.
Other than that time away from the track the mount of Nico de Boinville would look to have plenty in his favour here. Never out of the first three in three starts at this track – including when second to Sam Spinner in this race in 2017 – he has also only finished outside of the first three once in his 10 starts on a soft surface. His peak career rating of 159 is better than anything achieved by all bar Paisley Park.
PAPAGANA – 14/1
If there is a horse amongst the outsiders likely to improve into contention, the one best equipped to do so could well be the Oliver Sherwood trained mare, Papagana. The youngest runner in the field at six years of age, this daughter of Martaline has made a most encouraging start to her career in winning four of seven starts over obstacles.
The two most recent of those successes have come at a pretty decent level too; firstly when rounding off last season with a 12-length romp in a Listed event at Doncaster; and latterly when scoring by nine lengths in that same grade on her seasonal return at Kempton. Those wins did come against her own sex, and whilst she is right up in class, and in against the boys, she won with such authority in that Kempton event in particular, that she looks well worth a crack at this level.
Long Walk Hurdle Winners
|2019||The Worlds End||15/8||Tom George||Adrian Heskin|
|2018||Paisley Park||8/1||Emma Lavelle||Aidan Coleman|
|2017||Sam Spinner||9/2||Jedd O’Keefe||Joe Colliver|
|2016||Unowhatimeanharry||6/5||Harry Fry||Barry Geraghty|
|2015||Thistlecrack||2/1||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore|
|2014||Reve De Sivola||13/2||Nick Williams||Daryl Jacob|
|2013||Reve De Sivola||9/4||Nick Williams||Richard Johnson|
|2012||Reve De Silvola||9/2||Nick Williams||Richard Johnson|
|2011||Big Buck's||30/100||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2010*||Big Buck's||2/13||Paul Nicholls||A P McCoy|
*2010 race run at Newbury on the 29th December due to snow at Ascot.
About The Long Walk Hurdle
Christmas is a wonderful time in the horse racing calendar. The National Hunt season is in full swing by the time the festive season rolls around and most of the leading stars of the various divisions have already made their seasonal reappearance.
That is almost always the case with those towards the top of the betting for the Long Walk Hurdle. This Grade 1 contest is among the most highly coveted and prestigious long distance hurdles of the year and it is very rare for a winner to be coming off a long break. Run over 3 miles on the Hunt course at Ascot Racecourse, this is a main target of any UK or Irish based trainer who has a top class staying hurdler in their yard.
A Race for Long Distance Specialists
It’s not just trainers who look forward to the Long Walk Hurdle. As long distance hurdling is something of a speciality you tend to find the same horses competing against each other, especially in these sort of quality contests. That renewing of hostilities provides ready-made storylines and angles to examine in the build-up.
Major Stayers’ Hurdle Winners: Last 3 Seasons
|Race||2018/19 Season||2017/18 Season||2016/17 Season|
|West Yorkshire Hurdle (Wetherby)||Nautical Nitwit||Colin’s Sister||Silsol|
|Betfair Stayers’ Hurdle (Haydock)||Paisley Park||Sam Spinner||Kruzhlinin|
|Long Distance Hurdle (Newbury)||Unowhatimeanharry||Beer Googles||Unowhatimeanharry|
|Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot)||Paisley Park||Sam Spinner||Unowhatimeanharry|
|Cleeve Hurdle (Cheltenham)||Paisley Park||Agrapart||Unowhatimeanharry|
|Rendlesham Hurdle (Haydock)||Shades Of Midnight||Donna’s Diamond||Zarkandar|
|Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham)||Paisley Park||Penhill||Nichols Canyon|
|Liverpool Hurdle (Aintree)||If The Cap Fits||Identity Thief||Yanworth|
|Select Hurdle (Sandown)||Younevercall||Call Me Lord||L’Ami Serge|
There are a few routes that horses tend to take coming into the Long Walk Hurdle. The Grade 3 Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle and the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle are important tests whilst the Coral Hurdle in November gives trainers the chance to see how their charges get on at Ascot. Although winning form at Ascot isn’t the most important stat to consider, any previous course form is very much a positive as it is a testing track which does not suit every horse.
Cheltenham’s Stayers Hurdle the Target
When the Long Walk Hurdle is in the books for another year it’s time for connections of those who contended in the final stages to look on to the huge long distance hurdle races still to come. The obvious target is the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. In fact, many trainers will bid to keep their leading charges fresh by avoiding the temptation to run them between their Ascot outing and the Cheltenham Festival.
It’s worth noting that the form from the Long Walk Hurdle hasn’t been particularly valuable for punters looking for a Stayers’ Hurdle bet. It takes a truly high class staying hurdler to win at both Ascot and Cheltenham.
The list of horses who have achieved that double includes Big Buck’s who won the Long Walk Hurdle four years in a row between 2009 and 2012 and followed up three of those wins with victories in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Barracouda, whose four wins make him the most successful horse in the history of the Long Walk Hurdle, also completed the highly impressive double.
Dual Long Walk and Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle Winners
|Horse||Trainer||Long Walk Hurdle Wins||Stayers’ Hurdle Wins|
|Paisley Park||Emma Lavelle||2018||2019|
|Big Buck’s||Paul Nicholls||2009, 2010, 2011||2009, 2010, 2011, 2012|
|My Way De Solzen||Alan King||2005||2006|
|Baracuda||Francois Doumen||2000, 2001, 2003, 2004||2002, 2003|
|Anzum||A. King / D. Nicholson||1999||1999|
|Crimson Embers||Fulke Walwyn||1983||1982, 1986|
|Derring Rose||Fred Winter||1980||1981|
|Highland Abbe||Les Kennard||1972||1974|