Faugheen and Samcro top 21 contenders for Long Walk crown

Connections of Un De Sceaux favour a return to action in Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown

Willie Mullins:  plans to see nine-time Grade One winner Un De Sceaux return to action this weekend, possibly at Sandown.  Photograph: David Davies/PA

Willie Mullins: plans to see nine-time Grade One winner Un De Sceaux return to action this weekend, possibly at Sandown. Photograph: David Davies/PA

 

Faugheen and Samcro are among 21 entries for the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 22nd.

The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen suffered a shock defeat at the hands of stablemate Sharjah in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month.

However, he would be of significant interest if returning to three miles in Berkshire later in the month, having rounded off last season with a stunning display at Punchestown over the longer trip. Mullins could also call upon Cheltenham Festival heroine Benie Des Dieux.

Gordon Elliott’s Samcro is a fascinating entry. Connections set out this season to head down the Champion Hurdle route, but he proved no match for dual champion Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last Saturday and he has been given the option of stepping up to three miles for the first time since winning his point-to-point.

Elliott has also entered his brilliant mare Apple’s Jade, who won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday for the third successive year with a 20-length demolition job, as well as Sutton Place.

The home team includes the last two winners of the Long Walk in Harry Fry’s Unowhatimeanharry and the Jedd O’Keeffe-trained Sam Spinner.

Other contenders include Fry’s If The Cap Fits, Agrapart – whose trainer Nick Williams saddled Reve De Sivola to win this prize three times – and Emma Lavelle’s recent Haydock scorer Paisley Park.

Connections of Un De Sceaux are leaning towards the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday rather then the Hilly Way Chase at Cork the following afternoon.

The ultra-consistent 10-year-old will be making his first start of the season wherever he turns up – but the recent rain is definitely in the favour of Willie Mullins’ nine-times Grade One winner.

Un De Sceaux won the Tingle Creek in 2016 and was last seen beating stablemate Douvan at the Punchestown Festival.

Great races

“He’s been in [training] a while but the ground has made it difficult for him. Thankfully the rain is now coming,” said part-owner Colm O’Connell. “If he goes to Sandown and takes on Altior it’s the race of the season. We’d love to take him on.

“I’d love to see him in the Tingle Creek, it’s one of the great races. How Ruby [Walsh] will ride him will be interesting, too – will he drop him in or not? The rain is all in our favour, too.

“He’s in the John Durkan but that has barely been mentioned, it was either the Hilly Way or the Tingle Creek. We won the Hilly Way last year but it would be great to go to Sandown with him.”

He added: “Last year he won in Mallow, he won the Clarence House, he was second in the Ryanair and won the Irish Champion Chase. If you were the owner of another horse you might think twice about going.

“Willie will ultimately make the call, but if he goes to Sandown it is a race that will be good be racing. We’ll always go where Willie thinks is best, but Sandown would be the choice of the owners. But if he’d run where we’d wanted him to all his career he’d probably have broken down and been retired by now!”

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