Strong turn-out for Long Walk as Hardy Eustace tries a new trip

HARDY Eustace will face a maximum of 14 rivals in the BGC Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Dessie Hughes’ dual Champion Hurdle winner will attempt this three-mile-one-furlong trip for the first time in his career, with the outcome likely to determine his Cheltenham target.

Chief opposition is likely to come from Jonjo O’Neill’s Black Jack Ketchum, who returned to winning ways at Wetherby but was denied a run in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury because of soft ground.

Cheltenham Festival winner Oscar Park, who was still going well in the Newbury race until falling two out, will again try his hand against the best in the business.

Blazing Bailey, who led for a long way at Newbury, is another possible.

The vastly-improved Sonnyanjoe supplements the Irish challenge, while Francois Doumen could send Kasbah Bliss over from France.

Turpin Green may revert to hurdles after cutting no ice in the Betfair Chase, with Gaspara a possible for the in-form David Pipe team.

The field is completed at this stage by Chief Dan George, Hills Of Aran, Lough Derg, Lyes Green, No Refuge, Oscardeal and Special Envoy.

Totesport have installed Hardy Eustace as the 9-4 favourite.

Paul Petrie, totesport spokesman said: “Dessie Hughes has suggested that Hardy Eustace could still go down the Champion Hurdle route, but a good performance on Saturday may change his mind. He is certainly the horse to beat.”

BGC Long Walk Hurdle; totesport bet:

9-4 Hardy Eustace, 3-1 Black Jack Ketchum, 5-1 Special Envoy, 13-2 Blazing Bailey, Kasbah Bliss, 8-1 Gaspara, 10-1 Oscar Park, 12-1 Turpin Green, 14-1 Chief Dan George, Sonnyanjoe, 20-1 Lough Derg, No Refuge, 50-1 Hills of Aran, Lyes Green, 100-1 Oscardeal.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox