We usually head to the Berkshire venue of Ascot for the big pre-Christmas Grade 1, as the track lays on the latest 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.
In 2022, following abandonment at Ascot due to snow and a frozen course, this race was held at Kempton as part of their Boxing Day card during the Christmas Festival.
Long Walk Hurdle Course Map (Jumps Course)
This staying hurdle consists of twelve jumps beginning on the western straight after the turn which follows from the finishing post. Runners will travel clockwise around Ascot's triangular course completing two circuits in total.
Long Walk Hurdle Past Winners
|Jonjo O'Neill Jr
|The Worlds End
|Reve De Sivola
|Reve De Sivola
|Reve De Silvola
|My Way de Solzen
The 2022 race was run at Kempton on Boxing Day due to frozen ground at Ascot.
The 2009 and 2010 races were run at Newbury due to snow at Ascot.
The 2004 race was run at Windsor and the 2005 race was run at Chepstow due to course redevelopment.
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 three 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: 2021/22 – 2023/24
|West Yorkshire Hurdle (Wetherby)
|Betfair Stayers’ Hurdle (Haydock)
|Dans Le Vent
|Long Distance Hurdle (Newbury)
|Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot)
|Cleeve Hurdle (Cheltenham)
|27th Jan 2024
|Rendlesham Hurdle (Haydock)
|17th Feb 2024
|Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham)
|14th Mar 2024
|Sire Du Berlais
|Liverpool Hurdle (Aintree)
|13th Apr 2024
|Sire Du Berlais
|Sire Du Berlais
|Select Hurdle (Sandown)
|27th Apr 2024
There are a few routes that horses tend to take coming into the Long Walk Hurdle. The Premier Handicap (formerly Grade 3) Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle and the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle are important tests whilst the 2m 3 ½f 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.
As the chart above shows, most recent winners of the Long Walk Hurdle ran in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury previously. The next most popular lead-up races were the Coral Hurdle at Ascot and the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. The results from the most recent of these races can be found below.
Long Walk Hurdle 2023 Lead-Up Race Results (Top 3)
|Betfair Stayers’ Hurdle
|Coral Ascot Hurdle
|Long Distance Hurdle
|Slate Lane (11/4)
|Blueking D’Oroux (4/1)
|Dashel Drasher (2/1)
|Fine Margin (22/1)
|Strong Leader (5/2)
|Paisley Park (4/1)
|Theatre Glory (7/4)
|Flight Deck (20/1)
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
|Long Walk Hurdle Wins
|Stayers’ Hurdle Wins
|2018, 2020, 2022
|2009, 2010, 2011
|2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
|My Way De Solzen
|2000, 2001, 2003, 2004
|A. King / D. Nicholson