December 6, 2021

Big two in Long Walk frame

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Paisley Park will face a maximum of 13 rivals in his bid to regain the Porsche Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Emma Lavelle’s classy performer took the Grade One prize in 2018 on the way to winning the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham the following March.

He was set to attempt to retain his Long Walk crown last December, but was a late withdrawal due to the heavy ground.

Disappointing in last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle, Paisley Park made an encouraging comeback when second to Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

The Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old is among his potential opposition, while there are two other previous winners among the five-day confirmations in the shape of Thistlecrack (2015) and The Worlds End (2019).

Dan Skelton has targeted this race for Roksana since her victory in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby.

“I was delighted with her at Wetherby,” said the Alcester handler.

“She went back to her owners for a little while just to recharge her batteries really so she could come back the best she could be.

“I’m really happy with her and she looks fantastic. The lad who rides her out every day says she feels as good as she could.

“We are going to take on the front two from Newbury, which is the next level. They have got to give 7lb to her and over three miles in what is likely to be soft ground that will be telling.

“I never had any intention of going to Newbury. The plan was always to go to Wetherby then to Ascot. It is going to be a good race.”

Gordon Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais and the Ronan McNally-trained The Jam Man are the two Irish-trained possibles, while David Pipe could take the plunge with the prolific Main Fact, winner of his last nine races.

Completing the list are Lil Rockerfeller, Portrush Ted, Third Wind, Thomas Darby and Younevercall.

Kildisart also holds an entry in the Ascot Silver Cup Handicap Chase on the same card.