At The Races expert Declan Rix speaks to us through Saturday’s Howden Long Walk Hurdle from Ascot, live on Sky Sports Racing.

Champ (Nikki Henderson)

A high-ranking stalker in recent seasons who has returned to obstacles after struggling with back problems. Certainly good enough to win if right, but this is his first start of the season and in recent seasons he has looked more comfortable using his left hand. The market should give an idea of ​​his fitness/well-being.

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Oscar Lisnagar (Rebecca Curtis)

The 2020 Stayers’ Hurdle winner, but his level since then has been a bit tough. He was disappointed last time but had excuses because he lost a shoe and banged on himself. It would be easier to return to a slower surface, and any rain would help, but it has proven difficult to catch recently.

Lisnagar's Oscar crossed by jockey Adam Wedge celebrates winning the Buddy Power Steers Hurl
Lisnagar’s Oscar crossed by jockey Adam Wedge celebrates winning the Buddy Power Steers Hurl

On the Blind Side (Nikki Henderson)

A lovable and dependable genre that has been slowly advancing each season. Despite being an important player in betting his campaign’s resurgence, he has run under penalty in a race where he will likely race earlier than ideal. He’s entitled to a tried-and-true stripping for it and looks expensive (16/1), especially if he gets a better tactical flight this time around.

Paisley Park (Emma LaVille)

He was an outstanding hurdler previously, but at the age of nine, he began to look regressive. His form plummeted last season and in his two rounds in this campaign he has been disappointed, even though he may not have liked to run last time.

Given his size and size, he might strip him of his fitness this time around. You’ll love going back to a course that requires a bit more stamina, and you’ll at least get a price for a change, but recent evidence is hard to recommend.

paisley park
Paisley Park on a recovery mission

Ronald Pump (Matthew Smith)

A lovable type, strong to stay but has a touch of sophistication. He started his season well behind Honeysuckle at Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on a not enough ride, so I’ll love going up the three-mile run again.

It might have been done more often in the race to bring out his stamina, but either way, it has to be respected.

The Third Wind (Heggy Morrison)

He’s been progressive and dependable in recent seasons, and as a seven-year-old he’s entitled to improve again, having competed only 14 times. He placed a good fifth in this race last year, but beat Lisnagar Oscar and On the Blindside on his next start at Rendlesham Hurdle.

His price tag seems steep at 33/1, but while he’s been good in the past, he would have cared more about having a runner under his belt.

Thomas Darby, On The Blind Side, and Paisley Park could all meet again at Ascot then
Thomas Darby, On The Blind Side, and Paisley Park could all meet again at Ascot then

Thomas Darby (Oli Murphy)

The first time he tied the tongue, he took the Class 2 long-distance hurdles at Newbury last, though there was little doubt that he picked up the chops in a race where he didn’t take a penalty.

His career best effort came on this course in January 2020, and while he’s been worse at the weights with On The Blind Side and Paisley Park, he’s one of the more likely winners if on a new day. Fergus Gregory riding in his first row.

hill zaatar
Thyme Hill returns after a bad tour in France

Tell Zaatar (Philip Hobbs)

High-class hurdles Paisley Park stole in this race last year, having stopped running when he hit the front. He missed the Stayers’ hurdle through a small setback, but he made up for it at Aintree, winning the first-class stay barrier.

He was set a very tough job in his first season debut to go to France on heavy ground, but during the affair, he was still frustrated. Now with running under his belt, returning to a more solid surface are two positive factors.

Declan’s rule

There doesn’t seem to be much pace, especially if Paisley Park reverts to more patient tactics, with the possibility that it won’t suit him to run up front last time around. As the market suggests, Thyme Hill (7/4) is the likely winner, but I have little interest in backing a horse at this price on the back of a disappointing run.

The market should be a guide as far as Champ is concerned, but Ascot may not be for him. Thomas Darby may have had his day in the sun last, while Paisley Park (wearing tongue-tie for the first time) looks regressed. Oscar Lisnagar would love to return to softer land, but it just doesn’t seem like enough at the moment.

It leaves me with two options, On The Blind Side, who might run the race and Irish striker Ronald Bemp. At the prices, 1/16 and 7/2 respectively, I’m happy to support both on the blind side And Ronald pump.

The former is certainly exaggerated at 16/1, especially since it might get an easy lead. I’d be more confident on land faster. Some bookmakers pay four places.

Ronald Pump here comes on the back strong effort behind Honeysuckle, entitled to improve for that and is a horse I can see enjoying the demands of the Ascot.

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