Very much a confirmed and reliable trial for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury is run every year in late November or early December. It takes place on a very important weekend for hurdlers with the two-milers also going in the Fighting Fifth up at Newcastle. The race was inaugurated in 1990 and takes its participants over the full three-mile distance, jumping 12 of Newbury’s hurdles across the duration.
Given the record of this race’s winners in the past, the Long Distance Hurdle is considered a crucial trial for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and so horses not just winning but running well in this race have to be noted by punters. Superstars Big Buck’s, Inglis Drever and Thistlecrack have all won this before going on to Festival glory, so it is fair to say that future Cheltenham 2023 offers will depend on the race.
The 2022 edition of the Long Distance Hurdle race will be staged on Friday November 25th.
Six horses have been declared in the final 2022 Long Distance Hurdle entries. Last year’s winner Thomas Darby is among them, along with third-placed Paisley Park. Last year both horses had run at Wetherby and it was Thomas Darby who benefitted most from the outing. Thomas Darby has taken the same route this season, finishing 10 lengths second to Proschema. He was comfortably out-paced from the last flight but he must enter calculations.
Paisley Park is now ten years of age and does not seem to possess quite the same finishing kick as he used to. However, he did win the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle in January and was a respectable third in the Stayers’ Hurdle. He usually needs the run to sharpen him up first time out.
Proschema posted a career-best effort when beating Thomas Darby at Wetherby. That was the first time he has managed to win over three miles in four attempts. Jockey Harry Skelton will be keen to hold him up and delay his challenge until the closing stages.
The same will be true of Champ who prefers to come from off the pace in his races. Nicky Henderson’s gelding is also a ten-year-old but posted some fine efforts over hurdles last season, notably when winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.
Completing the 2022 Long Distance Hurdle runners are Dashel Drasher and Tea Clipper. Official ratings leave the latter at least 10lbs inferior to his rivals but Dashel Drasher is bidding to follow up a recent Aintree success. He is always a tough horse to pass, both over hurdles and fences.
2022 Long Distance Hurdle Tips: Proschema 3.05 Newbury (Friday 25th November)
As a conditions race and not a handicap, age is unimportant here and in fact there have been many multiple winners who keep coming back year after year. 11 favourites out of 19 have taken the race, but they include some long odds-on shots such as regulars Big Buck’s and Baracouda. This is a quality race, so generally speaking an odds-on shot is very likely to score, but if there isn’t one and taking out the one-off 40/1 scorer Beer Goggles we are left with an average SP of 9/2.
This tells us that there is value to be had if there is not one truly outstanding candidate, so essentially if we have a wide-open field then consider staying away from the favourite altogether. Many Long Distance Hurdle winners have already had a run that season, so look out for those making late-October or early-November debuts before coming here fully race fit.
The Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is the ultimate objective for winners of the Long Distance Hurdle. Six of the last twelve winners of this race went on to contest the Cheltenham event. Inglis Drever, Big Buck’s and Thistlecrack all went on to win both races in the same season.
The Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury also has a big influence on the outcome of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December. Eight of the last twelve winners ran at Ascot with four of them proving successful. Paul Nicholls trained Big Buck’s to win both races for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011. Thistlecrack (2015) and Unowhatimeanharry (2016) also won both races in the same season.
Looking further back in the archives, French Champion Stayer Baracouda also used this race as a stepping-stone to Cheltenham. He won it in 2003 and 2004, going on to win his second Stayers’ Hurdle crown in 2003. Rather like Big Buck’s, he also plundered Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle with four victories between 2000 and 2004.
The best form guide for the 2021 Long Distance Hurdle was the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby at the end of October. On that occasion Paul Webber’s Indefatigable had beaten Proschema with Paisley Park in third and Thomas Darby fourth. Most observers felt that Paisley Park could reverse the form after he stayed on encouragingly in the closing stages.
Trainer Emma Lavelle fitted cheek-pieces to her stable star in the hope that it might improve his performance. The main market opposition came from Ireland’s Mrs Milner, up in class after winning the Pertemps Network Handicap Final at the Cheltenham Festival.
Aidan Coleman tried a change of tactics on Paisley Park, leading until headed at the third last. He briefly rallied but could not sustain his effort. He eventually finished third behind Thomas Darby and On The Blind Side. The winner had often threatened to win a decent staying prize and had finished third in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle the previous spring.
Mrs Milner finished fourth but the biggest disappointment of the race was Wetherby winner Indefatigable. She was never travelling for Daryl Jacob and finished a remote last of the six runners.
2021 Long Distance Hurdle Result
🥇 1st Thomas Darby 7-1
🥈 2nd On The Blind Side 11-1
🥉 3rd Paisley Park 9-5 Favourite
🐎 6 Ran
👨🏻💼 Winning Trainer: Olly Murphy
🏇🏻 Winning Jockey: Sean Bowen
Harvey Mayson has worked as a horseracing writer, blogger and tipster for several of the UK’s leading bookmakers and numerous other specialist racing sites. Harvey has great knowledge of horse racing history and was the author of the Paddy Power Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National blog for three years. Harvey’s blog at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 included a 100,000-1 ante-post four-timer while he correctly forecast the first four winners on Grand National day in 2015. He also tipped three Grand National winners in a row and eleven consecutive winning nap selections.