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Long Distance Hurdle – Preview + Verdict For Friday’s Grade 2 At Newbury

The Long Distance Hurdle has an illustrious roll of honour, including multiple winner Big Buck’s, Thistlecrack, Unowhatimeanharry, Thyme Hill and Paisley Park who has become somewhat of a standing dish in this contest in recent years. We’ve been served up some cracking finishes in recent years and this year’s race should also throw up a decent scrap.

GG writer Dan Corbally previews this years race, before giving his verdict on who he expects to come out on top.

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Last year saw Nicky Henderson’s CHAMP come out on top in one of the best finishes to a race that season, which saw runner-up Paisley Park just miss out by a neck:

  • 10 of the last 12 winners were aged 7 or over
  • 4 of the last 12 winners won on their last run
  • 3 of the last 12 winners ran in the Liverpool Hurdle on their last run, 2 of the 3 won, 1 placed
  • 8 of the last 12 winners ran 174 days or longer ago
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win at Newbury
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win in a grade 1 race

Key Runners


(Emma Lavelle)

A firm fan favourite in recent years and with good reason, providing plenty of thrilling contests with his strong-staying late running style. This is his seasonal debut and while he will probably come on for it, he has some big performances in this contest on return down the years. He took the scalp of Thistlecrack on his first run in this race in 2019, and finished in behind Thyme Hill in 2020, third in the 2021 and second in the 2022 renewal behind Champ. The Emma Lavelle team weren’t firing on all cylinders last season but really kicked off with some purpose this season, the wins have dried up a little over the last fortnight but her string continue to run well. He’s very much respected as we know just how much ability he has but he’s rising twelve now and may be vulnerable to a younger challenger.


(Jeremy Scott)

Last season World Hurdle runner-up, the last of three consecutive silver medals at Cheltenham. That said, there can be no question about his attitude, he’s a hardy performer as evidenced by his Cheltenham Festival performance. He missed a recent engagement in the 1965 Chase at Ascot due to ground so the softer the better for him, he also missed the corresponding race last year for the same reason.. He generally comes on for his seasonal debut, though he did win on his return last year (entitled to do so, main rival unseated early). As a result of that we can probably expect a better run than when fading into third at Wetherby on this season’s bow. He’ll likely force the issue from the front and could be hard to reel in and pass.


(Deborah Cole)

A new recruit to Deborah Cole’s team who went a way to repaying the faith shown when a cracking third (66/1) in a Pertemps Series Qualifier at Cheltenhan a month ago. Went clear with a mid-race move that day and just couldn’t repel the late charges of Hyland and Judicial Law after the last. Encouraging as that was it still leaves him with a fair amount to find in a Graded race of this nature. His goal now will probably revolved around making it to the Festival, for that Pertemps Handicaps, in one piece.


(Paul Nicholls)

Holds a very impressive record of six wins from ten starts under rules, five of which coming over hurdles. Blew out on his latest run when a well-supported favourite (9/2) in the same Pertemps handicap at Cheltenham last month, finishing fifteenth in a field of 20 runners with Flight Deck third. Much like that rival his immediate future is probably in handicaps, though he has time on his side being only six-years-old. This is his second go at three miles so it remains to be seen if this will prove his optimum. Paul Nicholls farmed this race for four consecutive years with Big Buck’s, who ran in the same colours as this horse.


(Patrick Neville)

The lowest rated in the line -up and like a couple of others, looks more for handicaps. This represents his seasonal and stable debut having been last seen in action in March at Kelso in a handicap, running with credit to finish third off 126. That form leaves him plenty to find with the main protagonists in here but he did manage a respectable fifth in behind the likes of Maximilian and Stay Away Fay and in front of Twig who has won and run well a couple of valuable races since. This represents his second attempt at this three mile trip but he has plenty to find.


(Nicky Henderson)

Making her seasonal debut in here off the back of seven months off and has won off similar breaks in the past. Bitterly disappointing when sent off favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but bounced back in no uncertain terms when proving she stays every yard of the three mile trip in the Liverpool Hurdle. Only beaten that day by the strong-staying Sire Du Berlais who had also won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in the weeks preceding that contest. Had one of today’s rivals, Dashel Drasher, in behind and she seems versatile in terms of ground, having won on good & soft ground, but probably doesn’t want any extremes at either end of the scale. Afforded the utmost respect in here and she could still have more improvement in her locker at this trip.

Big-Race Verdict

MARIE’S ROCK takes very little finding in the market but she’s a class-act and the hope is another summer off can see her improve again. When she’s on a going day, she’s very good and although it hasn’t been that fruitful a year so far in terms of 1s on her form (one win v three wins in 2022) she showed a very high-level of ability when running second in the Liverpool Hurdle and if Nicky Henderson can tweak some things and train her as more of a stayer she could yet come good again at Grade 1 level. However, fan favourites like Paisley Park & Dashel Drasher will be fighting right to the death, with the latter trying to last home and the former likely to attempt to come with a wet sail late in the day to peg them back after hitting his customary flat-spot.

SELECTION: MARIE’S ROCK (1/1 generally)

*Odds Correct At Time Of Writing – 1.20pm Monday 27th November*

Long Distance Hurdle odds – Grosvenor Sport

  • Maries Rock 10/11
  • Dashel Drasher 11/4
  • Paisley Park 3/1
  • Hugos New Horse 14/1
  • Flight Deck 16/1
  • Mahons Glory 33/1
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