We 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, now named the Marsh 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.
Long Walk Hurdle Past Winners
|2020||Paisley Park||9/4||Emma Lavelle||Aidan Coleman|
|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||Tony McCoy|
|2009||Big Buck's||1/2||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2008||Punchestowns||3/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2007||Lough Derg||14/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|2006||Mighty Man||8/11||Henry Daly||Richard Johnson|
|2005||My Way de Solzen||12/1||Alan King||Robert Thornton|
|2004||Baracouda||8/13||Francois Doumen||Tony McCoy|
|2003||Baracouda||2/7||Francois Doumen||Thierry Doumen|
|2002||Deano's Beano||14/1||Martin Pipe||Tony McCoy|
|2001||Baracouda||2/5||Francois Doumen||Thierry Doumen|
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: 2017/18 – 2019/20
|Race||2019/20 Season||2018/19 Season||2017/18 Season|
|West Yorkshire Hurdle (Wetherby)||The Worlds End||Nautical Nitwit||Colin’s Sister|
|Betfair Stayers’ Hurdle (Haydock)||Stoney Mountain||Paisley Park||Sam Spinner|
|Long Distance Hurdle (Newbury)||Paisley Park||Unowhatimeanharry||Beer Googles|
|Long Walk Hurdle (Ascot)||The Worlds End||Paisley Park||Sam Spinner|
|Cleeve Hurdle (Cheltenham)||Paisley Park||Paisley Park||Agrapart|
|Rendlesham Hurdle (Haydock)||Emitom||Shades Of Midnight||Donna’s Diamond|
|Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham)||Lisnagar Oscar||Paisley Park||Penhill|
|Liverpool Hurdle (Aintree)||Cancelled||If The Cap Fits||Identity Thief|
|Select Hurdle (Sandown)||Cancelled||Younevercall||Call Me Lord|
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.
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.
2020 Long Walk Hurdle Lead-Up Race Results (Top 5)
|Pos.||Coral Ascot Hurdle||Betfair Stayers’ Hurdle||Long Distance Hurdle|
|1st||Song For Someone (11/4)||Main Fact (13/2)||Thyme Hill (7/2)|
|2nd||Call Me Lord (7/4)||Third Wind (6/1)||Paisley Park (11/4)|
|3rd||Laurina (11/8)||Highland Hunter (7/1)||McFabulous (15/8)|
|4th||–||Ask Dillon (20/1)||Summerville Boy (11/1)|
|5th||–||West To The Bridge (20/1)||Honest Vic (11/1)|
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
|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|