Sivola takes Long Walk in his stride
Racing:Reve De Sivola made full use of the enforced absence of Big Buck’s to claim Grade One glory in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
Soon tracking Kayf Aramis, who opened up an early lead, Richard Johnson bided his time on the Nick Williams-trained seven-year-old before just taking off in front some way out.
He steadily stamped his authority from there and jumped particularly well barring one slight error.
Trustan Times tried to make ground under a hard drive going to the second-last but Reve De Sivola was again good and really opened up going to the final flight.
The 9 to 2 chance safely negotiated that and streaked clear for a 14-length success over 15 to 8 favourite Smad Place.
Reve De Sivola won a Grade One as a novice hurdler at Punchestown in 2010, and was second to Big Buck’s at Newbury earlier this month on his first start for almost a year.
Williams said: “He’s probably a better hurdler than a chaser, and his first run back was after recovering from an injury. It worked out nicely today as he had plenty of space and it was an impressive performance.
“We will go for the World Hurdle, but I always injure horses at Cheltenham. It’s not my favourite course and he wants heavy ground, but he will have to take his chance. We will see how he is, as he doesn’t necessarily have to have another run.”
Paddy Power gave the Paul Duffy-owned Reve De Sivola a 10 to 1 quote for the World Hurdle.
Alan King said of runner-up Smad Place, who stepped up on his returning third in the John Smith’s Hurdle at Wetherby: “I was delighted with him, he handles heavy ground well but probably doesn’t stay three-miles-one on it.
“It was better than Wetherby and he could either go for the Cleeve or the National Spirit at Fontwell before the World Hurdle.”
Cause Of Causesmade light work of very testing conditions to give Ireland victory in The Ladbroke.
The Gordon Elliott-trained four-year-old sprouted wings between the last two flights, as gallant top-weight Petit Robin appeared as if he had done enough.
Davy Condon’s mount looked as if he had just joined in and rattled past Nicky Henderson’s runner after the last, winning by four lengths from his fellow 25 to 1 chance.
Elliott said: “We were worried about the ground but we thought he had a right chance if he did handle it.
“We brought him over a couple of days earlier as he’s not a great traveller. The lads have worked with him at home and everyone has done a great job with him.
“We’re not bothered what the handicapper does now as this was a good pot. He’s a gentleman of a horse to deal with and it’s nice to win a high-profile race.
“He could maybe go for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and could even be a horse for something like the Ebor in the summer.”
Condon said: “He wouldn’t be in love with that ground but he had to go through it like the rest of them.
“He’s so genuine and when I pulled out wide up the straight he flew. I was struggling turning in but when I pulled him out he took off. I thought at the second-last I would win.
“He deserved a big one. He’s been second in a Galway Hurdle and third in the Greatwood.”
Meanwhile, Sir Des Champsis set to take his chance in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Friday rather than travel to Kempton for the William Hill King George VI Chase on St Stephen’s Day.
With soft ground seemingly certain at Kempton, connections of the Willie Mullins-trained gelding are favouring the Lexus for the dual Cheltenham Festival winner, meaning another clash with Peter Casey’s Flemenstar, this time over three miles.
“Because of the weather we are leaning towards Leopardstown,” said Eddie O’Leary, racing manager to owners Gigginstown House Stud.
Sir Des Champs clashed with Flemenstar earlier this month in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown over two and a half miles, with the Casey runner coming out on top by five lengths.