Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

An each-way bet by George

Chief Dan George rates as a fine each-way alternative to Hardy Eustace in the BGC Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot tomorrow.

The Grade One in Berkshire pivots around the dual Champion Hurdle winner and whether he stays the extended three-mile trip.

Many blinkered observers refuse to hear otherwise and it admittedly does not take a great leap of faith to envisage Dessie Hughes' 10-year-old using this as a stepping-stone to World Hurdle glory.

That said, he is very short in the market for an animal who has only competed at the Long Walk distance once - and that was when he was never sighted at Aintree four years ago.

If Hardy Eustace does not quite get home, Chief Dan George is sure to be snapping at his heels in his quest for a second victory at the highest level.

Jimmy Moffatt's young pretender has stamina to burn and showed brute staying power to defeat the likes of Wichita Lineman and Silverburn when winning the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree.

He also landed two Grade Two heats on varying ground in February to confirm he possesses the class to complement the doughty resilience.

This is obviously a different kettle of fish and Chief Dan George has to step up quite considerably to go pound for pound with some of these.

The gelding's seasonal debut, when he finished a disappointing sixth behind Inglis Drever in the Long Distance Hurdle, will also put off many at the weekend.

But he has proven over the years he invariably comes out fighting after a sub-standard pipe-opener so there is obviously more to come.

The first-time visor could help him settle better and it is significant Moffatt has plugged away over timber rather than send him novice chasing.

In what is a moderate renewal of this valuable contest, this tough cookie represents a sweet double-figure solution to those unconvinced about Hardy Eustace in this stamp of race.

The Ladbroke is never an easy conundrum to solve - but this year could be an exception to the rule.

Jack The Giant's long-term future may be back over fences but he looks banker material to snare this Listed pot.

Such was the fluency of his Cheltenham win last week - the five-year-old's first outing since April - a 6lb penalty is unlikely to make too much of a difference.

Nicky Henderson will be delighted to see the rain has stayed away from Ascot as he does need decent ground to be fully effective.

Jack The Giant holds live Queen Mother claims but this two-mile handicap hurdle, in which he is still well treated compared to his rating over fences, will do rather nicely in the interim.

Grand Passion, a five-time winner at Lingfield, can emerge victorious from what should be another engaging duel with Gentleman's Deal in the Robert Leech Quebec Stakes.

Botham ran a sound race from 7lb out of the handicap at Southwell and can break his duck in the pontins.com Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton.

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