Good morning all,
The last Saturday before Christmas produced a thrilling finish to the Long Walk Hurdle. Inside the main piece you can ready my thoughts on the race and other highlights from the Ascot card. Plus, I have selection from Lingfield.
Paisley Park‘s Christmas cracker
Paisley Park broke the hearts of backers of favourite Thyme Hill, to snatch a win that seemed unlikely three out. Turning in Paisley Park had hit his usual flat spot and lost his place. The former Champion stayer looked in trouble and jockey Aidan Coleman was forced to make his effort on the outside. However, Paisley Park is a horse that doesn’t know when he’s beaten and found plenty for pressure to catch Thyme Hill in the final few strides.
It had looked like Thyme Hill was going to confirm Newbury form with Paisley Park when going a couple lengths clear after the last. It was a brave effort by the runner-up but on heavy ground he just couldn’t hold off a stronger stayer. On better ground at the Cheltenham Festival, he could be gone before Paisley Park has got past one of his flat spots.
The race had been billed as a rematch between Thyme Hill and Paisley Park. It was anything but. Roksana so impressive on her seasonal reappearance at Wetherby was less than two lengths back in third. She ran to her very best here but won’t find it easy finishing ahead of the first two home should she go for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham.
There’s no doubt Paisley Park produced a high-class staying performance to win the Long Walk but both the second and third helped to make it the race of the season so far. The Stayers Hurdle at the Festival is brewing up to be a cracker.
The two big handicaps on Saturday’s Ascot went to previous course and distance winners.
Malarky provides perfect tonic for Tizzard
The Silver Cup Handicap Chase was won by the Colin Tizzard trained Mister Malarky. Although the 7-year-old was on a winnable mark I didn’t fancy him on heavy ground at all. He seemed to enjoy being up the pace again and jumped much better than he had done on either start this season. His victory was much needed tonic for the trainer whose runners have been struggling for form this season
The Conditional was expected to go close after his recent third placed effort in the Ladbroke Trophy. He stayed on after the last to finish within two lengths of the winner in second. He jumped to his right a little bit to often and given the margin of defeat it’s not hard to think it was the difference between victory and defeat. It was another good performance by the 8-year-old who is better going left-handed. He’s been aimed at the Grand National but I’m not sure his jumping is good enough for that task.
Course specialist Regal Encore ran well back at his favourite track, to finish third but always seemed held.
Favourite Espoir De Guye 2-2 at Ascot coming into the race, both over shorter distances, didn’t stay 3m and finished a well beaten eighth. He’ll be worth another chance when dropping down in trip.
For those of you who like previous winners of a race. You would have been all over Not So Sleepy in the Betfair Exchange Trophy Hurdle.
Sleepy is wide awake
The 8-year-old had made all to win the race 12 month earlier on heavy ground and did the same again on Saturday. Turning from home he was sent for home and galloped all the way to the line to hold off his nearest challengers Buzz and Lightly Squeeze after the last. With Benson seemingly coming from another parish to grab fourth.
On his day, Not So Sleepy is a very good horse but it really depends how he feels. We do know he really likes Ascot, as he’s now won three times over C&D.
Buzz finished his race off well enough but never looked like he would catch the winner. On heavy ground it was always likely to be a tough ask for the 6-year-old and so it proved.
Lightly Squeeze was weak in the market before the race but ran a cracker in third. Coming into the straight he was under pressure but he never stopped and got a well-deserved third. He can surely win a decent pot, off his current mark.
Joint favourite Benson was seemingly outpaced in the early stages of the race and didn’t look like he would get competitive. However, he decided to race when it was all too late staying on strongly to grab fourth from Irish raider Belfast Banter. The latter was set plenty to do from the rear but in this sort of company he needs the front horses to come back to him and they didn’t. He came with what looked a good run two out but couldn’t make any impression on the winner and lost fourth in the final 50yds.
1:30 – Buckingham a three-time winner at Chelmsford. Has run some good races around here and has been knocking on the door of late. He probably needs a good pace to chase and for all the cards to fall right. When they do, he’s capable of winning off his present mark.
Buckingham – 9/2 @ Bet365.
Good luck with Monday’s bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk