Marie’s Rock heads the betting in the Coral Long Distance Hurdle

The Middleham Park owned eight-year-old mare Marie’s Rock is one of six declared in Friday’s Grade 2 Coral Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. The three-mile hurdle is the feature race on day one of the showpiece Coral Gold Cup meeting.


Marie’s Rock, last seen finishing runner up to Sire Du Berlais in the Liverpool Hurdle in April will be making her seasonal re-appearance at Newbury on Friday. She enjoyed a successful campaign last year with multiple Grade 1 successes including the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown. She comes from the Nicky Henderson yard who are in good form and benefits from the mare’s allowance carrying the lightest weight in the field of 11st 1lb. She is currently 10/11 favourite with sponsors Coral.


Tom Palin, Middleham Park racing manager commented: “We are very happy with how Marie’s Rock has come back in, this race has been the target for her almost since Aintree, it’s a good starting point and just down the road for her.


“It was very kind of Newbury to allow us to come use the facilities on the Gallops Morning last week and that was a perfect use of just getting rid of the fizz from her and giving her a nice away day as well as bringing her on a bit more fitness wise. She is bob on from that and is going there fighting fit and we are very much looking forward to starting out a full season over three miles. We were very taken with how she ran first time over three miles at Aintree, she travelled and came into the home straight with plenty of Stayers Hurdle winners in behind. It is a very exciting day on Friday, Newbury have been exceptional with accommodating our owners, we are very much looking forward to all going there.


“Hopefully we will see her strut her stuff and it will give us a good indication of where we sit in the British staying division, it looks a mouth-watering race with little separating the front three in the market. We are looking forward to taking on the best stayers this side of the Irish sea.”


The Jeremy Scott trained Dashel Drasher finished 3rd behind Botox Has on his first run back this season in the Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle over three miles on soft ground. The proven stayer had to settle for runner up spot on four occasions last season. Only once previously has he faced Marie’s Rock when finishing six lengths second on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham. He has however finished ahead of Paisley Park in their last two meetings. With regular jockey Aidan Coleman recovering from injury, the Emma Lavelle trained eleven-year-old will be ridden by Tom Bellamy on Friday.


Bellamy has partnered Paisley Park once previously in the Long Walk Hurdle and is relishing the opportunity to get back on board: “I’m very much looking forward to getting the leg up on Paisley Park, he is obviously in the twilight of his career now but he won a Grade 1 last season so there is fire still in the belly. I’ve had a good chat with Aidan [Coleman] already so all the preparations are done, he seems in good form, it’s a big task but we are very much looking forward to it.”


The line-up is completed by the Paul Nicholls trained Hugos New Horse who was last seen finishing down the field at Cheltenham at his first attempt over 3 miles in October. Purchased for only £5,000 at the Tattersalls Ascot June sales, the Deborah Cole trained Flight Deck will be having his first run in Grade 2 company. The nine-year-old will be ridden by conditional jockey, Chris Ward. He finished third in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in October at odds of 66-1 in his first run for a new yard having previously been a five-time winner for JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill. The outsider in the field is Mahons Glory who will be having his first run for the Patrick Neville yard having moved from Dr Richard Newlands.