The JLT Long Walk Hurdle
| Grade 1, Ascot 14:25
3m 1f 110y, Class 1
|Saturday 17th December 2016|
1 Unowhatimeanharry 6/5F
2 Lil Rockerfeller 8/1
3 Un Temps Pour Tout 16/1
11 ran Distances: 4½l, 14l, 1¼l
TIME 5m 54.30s (slow by 8.30s)
Harry Fry's Unowhatimeanharry completed a five-timer in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival and appeared better than ever in Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his first start in the colours of JP McManus.
Stepped back up to Grade One level, Unowhatimeanharry was the 6/5 favourite in the hands of Barry Geraghty, who was content to bide his time while Newbury runner-up Ballyoptic adopted more positive tactics in an attempt to reverse the form.
Ballyoptic was pursued for much of the three-mile journey by Reve De Sivola, who won this prize three times in succession between 2012 and 2014, but the latter was back-pedalling before the home turn.
West Approach, a half-brother to last year's Long Walk winner Thistlecrack, moved smoothly into contention, but all the while Unowhatimeanharry was making headway on the leaders.
West Approach began to weaken in the straight and Unowhatimeanharry looked to be getting the better of Ballyoptic when that rival crashed out at the final flight.
His exit gave the hot favourite breathing space and he kept up the gallop to score by four and a half lengths from Lil Rockerfeller, with Un Temps Pour Tout a distant third.
Geraghty said: "He did it well. He had to work harder here than he did the last day. He had to work hard, so it was a good performance.
"He's very good, but he only does as much as he has to. He probably has a little more class than he lets on."
Fry said: "We're relying on the jockey's report (because of the fog), but Barry said it was a proper Grade One test and he's had to work hard.
"He's come through it and the dream goes on."
Fry continued: "If he keeps doing that we'll be happy. We will let him come out of this, speak to the owner and the team and see what they want to do.
"We will enjoy this first - it is a Grade One in its own right and a memorable day, for sure.
"It means a lot. It is extraordinary. You could not ever hope for this or have predicted it, but that's what's brilliant about National Hunt racing.
"Sometimes these horses come along and they just keep finding. He is progressing unbelievably and hopefully long may it continue."
Trainer Neil King said of runner-up Lil Rockerfeller: "It was a career-best for the horse and he's run a fabulous race there.
"We were just a little bit too far back and he was making his ground up to Mr McManus' horse all the way to the line.
"I am very proud of him. Since his juvenile days we have said that three miles would be the making of him and it's rewarding.
"He would have a serious chance in the World Hurdle. I really do think so. I really, really do."
Sky Bet cut the winner to 3/1 from 4/1 for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners said: "Unowhatimeanharry is going from strength to strength and we still don't know when his improvement will level out.
"There are a few cards to be shuffled in the stayers division ahead of March but Harry Fry's star will be heading to the World Hurdle and he's our 3/1 joint-favourite alongside reigning champion Thistlecrack, who will obviously be diverted elsewhere should his chasing career remain on an upward trajectory."
JLT Long Walk Hurdle
£100,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m 97y, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Unowhatimeanharry 6/5f||B J Geraghty
|2nd||4½||Lil Rockerfeller (USA) 8/1||N D Fehily
|N B King||5|
|3rd||14||Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) 16/1||T Scudamore
|4th||1¼||Ptit Zig (FR) 8/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||7|
|5th||2||Alex De Larredya (FR) 5/1||D A Jacob
|6th||16||Reve De Sivola (FR) 33/1||D J Mullins
|7th||½||Zarkandar (IRE) 20/1||Sean Bowen
|P F Nicholls||9|
|8th||3||Shelford (IRE) 66/1||Harry Skelton
|9th||21||Surtee Du Berlais (IRE) 66/1||L P Aspell
|F||Ballyoptic (IRE) 8/1||R Johnson
|N A Twiston-Davies||6|
|UR||West Approach 40/1||T J O'Brien
|C L Tizzard||6|
LONG WALK HURDLE ROLL OF HONOUR (1965-2012)
Race run as a handicap prior to 1971
(run at Newbury in 2009, Chepstow in 2005 and Windsor in 2004)
Year Winner Age/Wt Owner Trainer Jockey SP
2014 REVE DE SIVOLA
2013 REVE DE SIVOLA
2012 REVE DE SIVOLA
2011 BIG BUCK’S 8-11-07 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls AP McCoy 3/10F
2010 BIG BUCK’S 7-11-07 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls AP McCoy 2/13F
2009 BIG BUCK’S 6-11-07 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 1/2F
2008 PUNCHESTOWNS 5-11-07 Judy Wilson Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty 3/1F
2007 LOUGH DERG 7-11-07 W Frewen David Pipe Tom Scudamore 14/1
2006 MIGHTY MAN 6-11-07 Joss Hanbury Henry Daly Richard Johnson 11/8F
2005 MY WAY DE SOLZEN 5-11-07 B Windfield, A Longman, J Wright, C Fenton; Alan King Robert Thornton 12/1
2004 BARACOUDA 9-11-07 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR Tony McCoy 8/13F
2003 BARACOUDA 8-11-07 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR Thierry Doumen 2/7F
2002 DEANO’S BEENO 10-11-07 Axom Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 14/1
2001 BARACOUDA 6-11-07 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR Thierry Doumen 2/5F
2000 BARACOUDA 5-11-07 Roger Barby Francois Doumen FR Thierry Doumen 11/4
1999 ANZUM 8-11-07 Old Foresters P’ship Alan King Richard Johnson 4/1
1998 PRINCEFUL 7-11-07 Robert Hitchins Jenny Pitman Richard Dunwoody 11/4F
1997 PADDY’S RETURN 5-11-07 Paddy O’Donnell Ferdy Murphy Norman Williamson 8/1
1996 OCEAN HAWK 4-11-07 Matt Archer/Jean Broadhurst Nigel Twiston-Davies Carl Llewellyn 7/1
1995 SILVER WEDGE 4-11-07 Shirley & Bill Robins Oliver Sherwood Jamie Osborne 7/1
1994 HEBRIDEAN 7-11-07 Peter Deal David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 100/30
1993 SWEET DUKE 6-11-07 Andy Mavrou Nigel Twiston-Davies Carl Llewellyn 7/2
1992 VAGOG 7-11-07 M A Swift Martin Pipe Martin Foster 15/2
1991 Abandoned due to frost
1990 FLOYD 10-11-07 Mike Walsh David Elsworth Graham Bradley 10/1
1989 ROYAL ATHLETE 6-10-08 Gary Johnson Jenny Pitman Dean Gallagher 33/1
1988 FRENCH GOBLIN 5-11-01 Maurice Pinto Josh Gifford Peter Hobbs 3/1
1987 BLUFF COVE 5-10-08 Dickins Ltd Reg Hollinshead Richard Dunwoody 14/1
1986 OUT OF THE GLOOM 5-10-08 Paul Green Reg Hollinshead Peter Scudamore 4/1
1985 MISTY DALE 7-10-08 David Rose Jenny Pitman Phil Tuck 9/4F
1984 KRISTENSON 7-10-08 Ursula Fantasia Roger Fisher Michael Williams 7/2
1983 CRIMSON EMBERS 8-10-11 Pam Smart Fulke Walwyn Stuart Shilston 14/1
1982 MAYOTTE 7-10-11 B Davies Richard Holder Paul Richards 15/8F
1981 Abandoned due to snow
1980 DERRING ROSE 5-11-11 Peter Savill Fred Winter John Francome 7/1
1979 JOHN CHERRY 8-10-11 Milton Ritzenberg Tom Jones Steve Smith Eccles 6/1
1978 KELSO CHANT 6-11-07 Mrs M Richardson Jumbo Wilkinson Steve Charlton 10/1
1977 JOHN CHERRY 6-10-11 Milton Ritzenberg Tom Jones Steve Smith Eccles 11/8F
1976 Abandoned due to frost
1975 LANZAROTE 7-12-05 Lord Howard de Walden Fred Winter John Francome 4/9F
1974 GO BINGO 5-11-12 Guy Reed Sam Hall David Munro 9/4
1973 SOLONING 8-11-08 Mrs C Thornton Fred Winter Richard Pitman 9/2
1972 HIGHLAND ABBE 6-11-12 Mrs K Hankey Les Kennard Mr R Smith 11/1
1971 ST PATRICK’S BLUE 6-11-12 P Aunger David Tatlow Bill Smith 7/2F
1970 ROUGE AUTUMN 6-10-05 Bryan Jenks Fred Rimell Ken White 9/2F
1969 CANDID CAMERA 6-10-06 R F P Ross Ted Goddard Joe Guest 100/8
1968 Abandoned due to waterlogging
1967 Abandoned due to foot and mouth epidemic
1966 SIR EDWARD 6-10-09 R Heaton Ryan Price Josh Gifford 7/2F
1965 MINUTE GUN 8-10-04 Bill Shand Kydd Bill Shand Kydd Richard Pitman 100/8