Long Walk Hurdle 2021 Tips: Hill's Thyme to shine at Ascot

Long Walk Hurdle Tips: Thyme Hill finished second in this race 12 months ago.
Long Walk Hurdle Tips: Thyme Hill finished second in this race 12 months ago.

It's all set for an epic renewal of the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday afternoon, and our in-house tipster Steve Chambers has picked out his best bet for the race, which is sure to throw up a top notch winner...

Emma Lavelle's stable star Paisley Park will attempt to join the likes of Big Buck's and Reve De Sivola on three wins in the Long Walk Hurdle, as he heads to Ascot on Saturday for the Grade 1 feature, which has attracted a stellar list of nine declarations for the meeting showpiece. A winner in 2018, the nine-year-old then fended off Thyme Hill in an enthralling renewal in 2020, and will now look to record the hat-trick this weekend, but he may face an uphill task.

Struggling to recapture his best form this season, Paisley Park was a mediocre third in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, while he followed that up with another third-placed finish in the Long Distance Hurdle. He will need to build on those efforts considerably now back in Grade 1 company and the former Stayers' Hurdle winner may have to relinquish his crown to a rival here.

Second in last year's contest was the Philip Hobbs-trained THYME HILL, who was narrowly beaten a neck, but built on that effort with a gutsy win in the Grade 1 Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National. Having missed the Cheltenham Festival, Thyme Hill was well fancied for Aintree and he duly obliged by getting the better of top notch mare Roksana. A disappointing comeback run in France - where he finished fifth in Grade 1 company - means he needs to bounce back here, but a return to British shores should see him at his best, and he can turn the tables on Paisley Park from last year's meeting.

A winner of the Long Distance Hurdle last season, Thyme Hill has shown he can produce the goods in soft conditions, so everything is set fair for a real surge for glory this weekend, and he can outstay his rivals with aplomb here and launch to the head of the betting for the Stayers' Hurdle in March.

Arguably the most fascinating runner on the entire card is another of Henderson's contenders, Champ, who is sure to be heading to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, but Henderson has elected to send him over hurdles for his first run of the year. A former winner of the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Champ also has Grade 1 hurdles success on his CV following his win in the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree, so he certainly can't be discounted on his return to the hurdling sphere. However, he's sure to have bigger fish to fry in the Spring, and taking on some race-fit rivals here he may just come unstuck in a race that is sure to be used to blow the cobwebs away.

Second behind the superstar mare Honeysuckle in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, Ronald Pump will step back up in trip for this event, and the former Stayers' Hurdle runner-up adds yet more depth to a contest that is awash with top notch staying talent. Four wins from his 21 career starts over hurdles certainly leaves you thinking that he maybe unable to get his head in front again here, and he can be ignored.

Of others, Thomas Darby finally showed he's a force to be reckoned within the staying hurdle division when he bounded to victory over On The Blind Side in Newbury's Long Distance Hurdle, and that pair will clash again here. But, the Long Walk is a much tougher proposition for both contenders, and while Thomas Darby has to be considered if replicating that Newbury run he can often blow more cold than hot.

Former Stayers' Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar has failed to taste victory since that 2020 Cheltenham Festival success, so it's hard to see him returning to the winner's enclosure again here, while Third Wind concludes the line-up, and heads into the event as one of the outsiders in a race that can go the way of Thyme Hill for the Hobbs team.

Long Walk Hurdle
Thyme Hill silk

Thyme Hill

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