Henderson big guns in Long Walk mix

Stablemates Buzz and Champ head 11 confirmations for the Howden Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Buzz is the likely favourite for the Grade One contest following a profitable autumn campaign – winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on the Flat before reverting to the jumping game to win the Ascot Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson’s charge is set to test the water over three miles for the first time in this weekend’s feature event and could be joined by two stable companions in Champ and On The Blind Side.

Champ looks set to run over hurdles for the first time since April 2019, having been off the track since being pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

On The Blind Side was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind the Olly Murphy-trained Thomas Darby, who is also in line to run on Saturday.

Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park, who was third at Newbury, will bid for a third Long Walk crown after taking top honours in 2018 and 2020.

The Philip Hobbs-trained Thyme Hill, who was beaten a neck by Paisley Park in an epic renewal 12 months ago, will look to bounce back from a disappointing effort in France last month.

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The sole Irish contender is Matthew Smith’s stable star Ronald Pump, who filled the runner-up spot behind the brilliant mare Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse three weeks ago.

Evan Williams has left in his Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle winner Dans Le Vent, but he is far from certain to take up the engagement.

“Dans Le Vent is confirmed for Saturday in the Long Walk Hurdle, but if that race fills up at declaration time, there is every chance we will wait for the Relkeel Hurdle,” said Williams.

“I won’t run in the Long Walk if it fills up and will wait a couple of weeks for the Relkeel.”

Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis), Third Wind (Hughie Morrison) and Indefatigable (Paul Webber) complete the acceptors.

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