Paisley Park On Track For Another Stayers’ Hurdle Crown
We are in for a treat on Saturday afternoon as Thyme Hill and Paisley Park go head to head. They are joint favourites at 2/1 with bet365* for Ascot’s feature race, the Long Walk Hurdle, due off at 2.25pm.
It’s a race with many facets, including the appearance of Thistlecrack (20/1 at bet365*) who was the champion stayer in the 2015/16 season. Main Fact (5/1 at bet365*) adds to the intrigue on the back of winning nine races in nine starts. However, on official ratings Paisley Park is the horse to beat.
The three miles and a bit contest is one of the major trials for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. A convincing winner often becomes the winter favourite for that race.
Paisley Park did the double two seasons ago and a replication of that level of form will make the eight-year-old gelding difficult to beat on the forecast soft-heavy in places ground.
Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle is a level weights race but fillies and mares receive seven pounds. Roksana is the only female in the field and looks dangerous receiving weight. However, it is difficult to see beyond the first two horses in the betting market who can be backed at a combined price of 4/6. Paisley Park is fancied to reverse Newbury form in a similar race with Thyme Hill.
Main Fact could be finally found out at this level while the veteran Thistlecrack will struggle to beat the younger horses.
The 2019 winner, The Worlds End, faces a far more difficult task this year and the rest of the field have something to find on form and ratings.
Bottom line, I think that Paisley Park can win the race for the second time and become the favourite for the stayers’ crown at Cheltenham next year. You heard it here first.
The handicap chase at 3pm on the same Ascot card has been renamed for a special cause.
The entire horse racing community is being encouraged to vote for Hollie Doyle to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (aka ‘SPOTY’). The Good Luck Hollie In SPOTY Silver Cup Handicap Chase is part of that process.
The last horse racing figure to win this award was Sir Anthony McCoy who took the prize back in 2010. The champion jockey had conditions in his favour having won his only Grand National on Don’t Push It the previous April and it was also a non-Olympics year and England underperformed at the World Cup.
The bookies make Lewis Hamilton the long-odds on favourite this year and while he will take some stopping, Hollie Doyle is now into 2nd favourite at 7/1 with bet365* after some support in what is a win only market.
This event can throw up a few surprises now and then – in 2017 Anthony Joshua was a similar price to Hamilton and he didn’t even make the top three! Sir Mo Farah who was around 10/1 was the winner that year.
As for the race itself, The Conditional is the current favourite at 3/1 with BetVictor and that is a price worth taking.
The Conditional won the competitive handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March from an Official Rating of 139. The horse must have been a good bet because his current figure is 146. The distance, going and level of the race are not issues so The Conditional can win this and provide some publicity for Hollie Doyle as she tries to be the first female winner of the BBC Sports Personality since Zara Tindall in 2006.
Tindall had influences in high places and her Grandmother is famous. Let’s hope the racing world can join forces and vote in enough numbers so that Hollie beats Hamilton and the rest of the field.
We shouldn’t write off Goshen for the Champion Hurdle just yet but he must give the 2020 winner Epatante weight due to the mares and fillies seven pounds allowance.
Despite running a shocker at Cheltenham last Saturday, the manner in which the horse was demolishing the Triumph Hurdle field in March before a mishap at the last hurdle suggests Goshen could still beat the defending champion in the 2021 Champion Hurdle carrying more weight.
* Betting odds quoted were correct at the time of article publication. Odds subject to change.