Ascot preview: Long Walk Hurdle (14.25)
David Metcalf | December 18, 2015
Thistlecrack scored in scintillating fashion on his seasonal reappearance, and can continue on his upward curve by landing a cracking renewal of the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (14.25).
The Colin Tizzard trained gelding showed progressive form last season, and relished the step up to 3m when running out the wide margin winner of the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
Thistlecrack backed that up with a cracking 1/2 a length second to Killultagh Vic in a Grade 1 contest at the Punchestown Festival on his final start of the campaign, and judged on performances looked staying hurdler going places.
That view was confirmed when the seven-year-old destroyed a good field on return to action in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.
Thistlecrack to follow up?
After travelling strongly throughout in the hands of jockey Tom Scudamore, Thistlecrack cruised into contention two from home before taking up the running at the last and staying on strongly to beat Deputy Dan by six lengths.
Reigning World Hurdle champion Cole Harden finished a further 1/2 length back in third, and Thistlecrack was value for much more than the winning margin.
There was absolutely no fluke about the victory, and Thistlecrack is currently Coral’s 7/1 favourite for the 2016 World Hurdle on the back of it.
This race demands more, but the son of Kayf Tara looks the type who needs keeping firmly onside and can come through the test with flying colours.
Can Saphir Du Rheu better World Hurdle showing?
Saphir Du Rheu ran a blinder when runner-up to Cole Harden in last season’s World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, so looks the obvious danger.
The Paul Nicholls trained gelding has won five of his 11 starts over hurdles, and connections have decided to switch him back to the smaller obstacles following a spell chasing.
It is tactic they used with the brilliant Big Buck’s, who also carried the colours of owner Andy Stewart, and the six-year-old is a classy sort who remains open to further progress.
Will it be for four in a row for Reve De Sivola
Reve De Sivola is bidding to win the race for a fourth year in succession, and is thus another that commands plenty of respect.
The Nick Williams trained 10-year-old is a tough sort who revels in the mud and comes alive at this venue.
This is in effect his “World Hurdle”, and Reve De Sivola is sure to have been trained to the minute to make a bold defence of his crown.