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ITV Racing Tips: Thyme against Paisley Park in the Long Walk

| 18.12.2020

All eyes will be on Ascot this Saturday as top class stayers Paisley Park and Thyme Hill renew their rivalry in a fascinating edition of the Long Walk Hurdle on ITV4.

Thyme Hill got the better of the 2018 Stayers’ Hurdle winner when the pair met in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month, but who’ll come on top this time around? We’ve previewed the day’s feature race, along with the Silver Cup and the Exchange Trophy in our ITV Racing Tips.

14:25 Ascot – Long Walk Hurdle

Paisley Park may have run well behind Thyme Hill on his first appearance since disappointing at the Festival, but there’s every chance he’ll have to play second fiddle once again here. The former champion stayer couldn’t quite reel in his progressive rival who was having his first run in open company, and a 3lb swing in the weights seems unlikely to make a significant difference.

Philip Hobbs’s charge stayed on with aplomb towards the finish and showed fantastic grit and determination to repel the challenge of Emma Lavelle’s inmate. There should be more to come from the six-year-old on his second start of the season, and that could make him a difficult horse to beat here.

Outside of the two market leaders, Main Fact is bidding for a remarkable ten-timer and cannot be discounted after the way he flew home at Haydock, while former Mares’ Hurdle winner Roksana could also get involved having produced an 8½l win in Grade 2 company at Wetherby last time out.

15:00 Ascot – Good Luck Hollie in Spoty Silver Cup

The Conditional ran an absolute cracker in the Ladbrokes Trophy and on the premise that he usually runs better on his second appearance of the season, he looks a worthy favourite for the Silver Cup.

David Bridgwater’s star has been performing consistently well since joining the yard, winning two big Cheltenham Handicaps last term, including the Ultima at the Festival. He also finished second in the 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy and hit the frame in the race once again last month when coming home an impressive third.

It’s fair to say this is probably a weaker contest than any of those races, so if he can continue that good form, then he should prove a worthy favourite here. Main rival Espoir De Guye won well at Ascot last month but has been hit with a 6lb rise from the handicapper, which means it’s Regal Encore who could prove the main danger.

The 12-year-old isn’t getting any younger but has won this race in each of the last two seasons and has a fantastic record around Ascot which reads P10132131. He won over course and distance in the Sodexo Gold Cup in October and warrants consideration irrespective of age or last month’s Ladbrokes Trophy blowout.

15:35 Ascot – Betfair Exchange Trophy

Buzz was lightyears ahead of his rivals over course and distance last month and is expected to have a big say once again here despite an 11lb hike in the weights. There’s more to come from Nicky Henderson’s inmate after that 7l win, but this won’t be an easy race to win.

Benson goes in search of the four-timer off 10lb higher, while Arrividerci had every chance when falling three from home at Haydock last time out. He had a subsequent winner behind him when scoring at Wetherby the time before that and could mount a solid challenge here.

But the one who could be worth a second look further down the market is Botox Has. Gary Moore’s runner looked impressive last term when second to future Grade 1 winner Allmankind and backed that run up with victory around Cheltenham a month later.

He missed the remainder of the season but was brought back in October to win well from The Pink’n before falling flat in a Listed contest at Newbury. The ground arguably didn’t suit on either of those occasions, so with soft going forecast on Saturday, he may be worth a play each-way in a wide-open handicap.

Saturday 19th December, ITV Racing Schedule

13:50 Ascot – “For The Love Of Racing” Handicap Chase

14:05 Haydock – Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle

14:25 Ascot – Long Walk Hurdle

14:40 Haydock – Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase

15:00 Ascot – Good Luck Hollie In SPOTY Silver Cup

15:35 Ascot – Betfair Exchange Trophy

View the latest Horse Racing odds

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Author

Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.