The Long Walk Hurdle is the featured race at Ascot today, with Ladbrokes announcing they have a live stream available on all of Saturday’s card, featuring odds on Smad Place, Trustan Times & Reve De Sivola.
There may be no Big Buck’s lining up at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle on Saturday but every cloud has a silver lining, and his injury has really livened up the staying hurdling department from a betting perspective.
If Paul Nicholls’ four-time winning World Hurdle winner was racing to win his fourth straight Ascot hurdle feature then he would have been no more than a 1/12 shot.
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Now with his withdrawal due to a tendon injury that will also keep him out of the Cheltenham Festival, there is a really open feel to proceedings with bookmakers going 5/2 the field on the eight runners declared.
Listening to the words of Clerk of the Course, Chris Stickles, may help punters in finding the winner of this prestigious race. The head grounds man at Ascot has declared that the state of the ground will be very heavy for the excellent seven race card.
Speaking on Thursday, he said: “We’ve had 28 millimetres of rain since late yesterday. We got it at the moment as heavy, soft in places – but it’s likely that we’ll go as heavy all over.”
With the testing nature of the race in mind, bookmakers have installed the mud loving Smad Place at the head of the betting. Alan King’s classy young horse looked a real top-class prospect in waiting when finishing third in the World Hurdle last season behind Big Buck’s but looked very sketchy when making his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby.
He finished a near-tailed off fourth behind Tidal Bay when fancied to run well, but every horse can be forgiven one bad run, and it seemed that King may have not got the horse fit enough for his first outing.
His form at Ascot from last season will give hope to his followers as his win in the Grade Two Bet Mobile At BetVictor.com Holloway’s Hurdle was achieved in a very impressive style.
If he bounces back to that level, the 5/2 on offer from Bet365 and Paddy Power could be well worth taking.
Vying for favouritism with him at the head of the betting is the Tim Easterby-trained Trusted Times, who deserves his crack at the top level following an impressive win in the Grade Three “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. This is a typical Easterby trained stayer, who will relish a testing trip like Ascot on Saturday.
He isn’t very quick and will be somewhere out the back of the field but nothing will be staying on better in final stages. At 11/4 with Bet365, he looks to have a great chance considering the testing conditions.
Despite not having Big Buck’s to go to war with in this race, Champion trainer Nicholls has entered two potential improvers in the form of Prospect Wells and Five Dream. Both will have to step up a lot on what they have showed in recent outings but with Nicholls in their corner the 5/1 for Prospect Wells and 12/1 for Five Dream with Paddy Power could be worth investing in.
Meanwhile on a jammed packed car at Ascot, Balder Suces, also trained by King, is the market leader for the Ladbroke Hurdle.
This race is normally a good pointer to all the top two-mile handicaps run later in the year, along with maybe the Champion Hurdle as well. Last year’s winner Raya Star has been withdrawn by King, but he still looks to have a strong chance with the four-year-old favourite.
The recent Haydock scorer finished third behind Zarkandar and Prospect Wells in the Grade Two totepool.com Elite Hurdle in November and looks potentially well handicapped off a mark of 147. He looks the one to be on at 11/2 with Bet365.