Jordan Yates' Long Walk Hurdle Preview. (22/12/2018)

The Long Walk Hurdle is a Grade 1 affair contested over a distance of just over three miles at 2.25 on Saturday at Ascot. It see's the returning Call Me Lord head affairs for Nicky Henderson, he comes here on the back of a fine campaign last season culminating in a win within Grade 2 company at Sandown when he was last seen. He's been put in as the as the general 11/4 market leader here due to his exploits last term which is probably about right. Unowhatimeanharry won this in 2016 and finished third in it last year, he's possibly one of my all time favourites over the jumps. He's in the twilight years off his career now but he's had a great old time of it under Harry Fry and bounced back with a win in the Long Distance Hurdle the last day at Newbury. As a consequence he sits prominently in the betting here as the general 3/1 second favourite.

The race has a very competitive feel to it and this translates into the betting as there is a whole host of horses battling it out at around a similar price. Agrapart was slightly disappointing on his reappearance effort when finishing fourth out five at Aintree where he was also behind Unowhatimeanharry. Sam Spinner won this last year and did it in taking style, it hasn't gone quite to plan since though as he couldn't manage to land a blow at the Spring Festival despite running respectably. He unseated on reappearance at Newbury last time and as a result finds himself as an 8/1 chance to retain his title. Nicky Henderson has two other representatives in the line up at present and these come in the from of Soul Emotion and the likeable Top Notch. Soul Emotion has been in great form since joining Seven Barrows winning both starts well and looks to be the choice of Nico de Boinville. You can find him in the betting at around the 8/1 mark. The fan favourite Top Notch is also down to take his place at the moment, he was last seen when winning the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown and reverts back to hurdles here in what seems to be an attempt to get a run into him which reflects in his sizeable price of 14/1. Paisley Park comes here after back to back victories for Emma Lavelle, the last of said wins came in Grade 3 company at Haydock last month and there may well be a lot more to come. Kim Bailey's Younevercall also looks unexposed and comes here in good form, however a step up is needed on his best form should he play a part amongst this company.

Race Verdict:

This isn't the strongest of Grade 1's and i've spent some time trying to dissect it and it certainly hasn't been easy. Call Me Lord has obvious claims but is too short for me on a return run and Unowhatimeanharry would be my winner if i was going with my heart instead of my head. I'm going to take a chance on one of the more unexposed and upcoming types though and go with PAISLEY PARK. I was at Haydock when he won last time and the way he stayed on in such a powerful manner was very impressive and at the prices i'd be happy to take a chance on him running well within more testing company here.

Selection: PAISLEY PARK - (8/1) (E/W)

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