The Long Walk Hurdle was first run in 1965 and it was initially a handicap race. It became a conditions race in 1971, and it was given Grade One status in 1990. Prior to the redevelopment of Ascot Racecourse (2004-2006) the race was run over 3 miles and 1½ furlongs.

Four winners of the Long Walk Hurdle have gone on to win the World Hurdle in the same season. Derring Rose (1980–81), Baracouda (2001–02), My Way de Solzen (2005–06) and Big Buck’s (2009–10, 2010-11 and 2011-12).

Trends (source: The Stats Don’t Lie)

Age – 9 of the last 12 winners were aged between 6 and 8-y-o.
Price – 7 of the last 12 favourites have won, 9/12 winners were in the top three in the betting.
Last Run – 6 of the last 12 winners won on their last run before the Long Walk Hurdle, 11/12 winners ran within the last 38 days.
Previous Course Form – 6/12 winners had at least one previous run at Ascot, 3/12 winners had at least one previous win at Ascot.
Previous Distance Form – 10/12 winners had at least three previous runs over 24-26 furlongs, 9/12 had at least one previous win over 24-26 furlongs.
Previous Hurdle Form – 9/12 winners had at least 10 runs over hurdles, 12/12 winners had at least three wins over hurdles, 9/12 winners had at least four wins over hurdles.
Rating – 9/12 winners were rated 151 or higher.
Grade 1 Wins – 8/12 winners had at least one previous win in a Grade 1 race.
Season Form – 12/12 winners had at least one run that season, 8/12 winners had at least one win that season.

Here is a runner-by-runner guide to Saturday’s big race:

Agrapart

The Nick Williams trained Agrapart scored at Cheltenham last New Year’s Day, beating L’ami Serge in the process but the six-year-old has failed to find his spark since.

Connections, including his jockey Lizzie Kelly, are adamant that he needs the going to be as heavy as possible to be seen at his best on Saturday.

Saying that, conditions at Auteuil for his last two runs ranged from soft to heavy but he could only finish seventh on both occasions.

L’Ami Serge

The winner of the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil back in June, L’Ami Serge is likely to benefit from the return to 3 miles, and is entitled to be thereabouts on all known form.

His subsequent return in the 2m 3f Coral Hurdle was a fine effort given he was conceding race fitness to Lil Rockerfeller and he ought to have come on for that run.

Lil Rockerfeller

Neil King’s gutsy chestnut gelding finished runner-up in this race twelve months ago behind Unowhatimeanharry prior to finishing ahead of the same rival at Cheltenham in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

After a decent return to action in testing conditions at Wetherby he went on to beat L’ami Serge in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.

Finishing in second place behind Nichols Canyon in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham was no mean feat and the six-year-old should be on the premises again in this contest.

Sam Spinner

Sam Spinner galloped his rivals into submission when making all in a competitive handicap at Haydock last time out and he appears to be on an upward curve.

Jedd O’Keefe’s runner will find it much tougher to fend of seasoned Grade One performers off level weights from the front but those will be probably be the tactics that will be adopted again.

The predicted soft ground will suit the five-year-old however and this young horse could easily take the step up in class here in his stride.

Taquin Du Seuil

Taquin Du Seuil finished third in the Coral Hurdle, running on well in the closing stages but all too late given that the bird had already flown.

Jonjo O’Neill’s ten-year-old last scored over hurdles in the 2012 Challow Hurdle, after being largely campaigned over fences with some success, namely the BetVictor Gold Cup in 2016.

The gelding will probably run another solid race but you can only envisage him placing at best.

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The Worlds End

The six-year-old was well fancied on his seasonal return at Haydock in the race won by Sam Spinner but he failed to get competitive that day and was beaten a good thirty lengths.

The Worlds End will be bidding for a second top-level success in this feature race after scoring last season at Aintree in the Sefton Hurdle.

With ground conditions not expected to be quite as tacky as they were at Haydock, Tom George’s gelding could well put that last run behind him.

Thomas Campbell

The Nicky Henderson trained Thomas Campbell has already registered two comfortable victories in 3m handicaps at Cheltenham this term, the second of which he managed to defy a 10lb rise in the weights.

Considered a 16/1 contender for the Stayers Hurdle next March, the five-year-old may not have finished his meteoric rise through the ratings just yet, with Saturday being the acid test.

Ubak

Winner of a Grade Three race at Aintree back in 2016, Gary Moore’s runner has been off the track for just over twelve months.

He came fourth in this race twelve months ago but he is clearly a fragile horse. He will probably need the run and would be a shock winner on this occasion.

Unowhatimeanharry

Harry Fry's nine-year-old won the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, the Long Walk and the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham last season before finishing third in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival in March and bids to retain his crown at Ascot.

He was successful on his reappearance at Aintree last month, but was surprisingly beaten by Beer Goggles when bidding for back-to-back victories in the Long Distance Hurdle three weeks ago.

The JP McManus owned gelding looks sure to be involved in the finish once again this term.

Summary

Lil Rockerfeller looks a better horse than ever this season and if there was a prize for steely resolve, grit and determination to be given out then this horse should have it.

He never goes down without a fight and that could just be the key to success on Saturday afternoon at Ascot.

888sport suggests: Lil Rockerfeller (win).

About the Author
By
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.


He writes for a number of websites and online publications and you can sometimes hear him at the weekend discussing racing on a number of local radio stations. 

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