It will have been a long walk into JP McManus's office for the unfortunate person who had to tell the owner they had forgotten to declare his pride and joy for Saturday's main event which means there will be no Long Walk for Baracouda. An administrative error at the stable of François Doumen has ruled the formidable staying hurdler out of the Grade One race he has already won on four occasions. At the age of 10 he will not get many more chances to add to that tally.
Frank Berry, McManus's racing manager, said: "Everything is fine," with the horse if not for the employee. "It was just a clerical error and he wasn't confirmed."
The way is thus left clear for Inglis Drever, who ended Baracouda's domination of the staying-hurdle division when winning the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and was again his conqueror at Newbury last month. Liam Cashman make Inglis Drever 4-9 favourite for Saturday's race which is run this year at Windsor rather than Ascot, with Crystal D'Ainay, third to Inglis Drever and Baracouda in the Newbury race, next in the betting at 8-1.
His trainer, Alan King, said: "Crystal D'Ainay is in grand form. It is very unlikely we can beat Inglis Drever, but it is a big prize and we have got to give it a crack it takes more than one horse to make a horse race."
King's Voy Por Ustedes is another with weighty prizes in his sights after maintaining his unbeaten record over fences in the novices' chase at Plumpton yesterday under a cool ride from Robert Thornton. Noel Williams, King's assistant, said: "If anything he travelled too well and got to the front too soon, but that can only bode well for when he's stepped up in class. One step at a time, but I am sure the Arkle Chase is at the back of Mr King's mind."
Fleet Street, third in the 2004 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, was unable to make a winning comeback after a 619-day absence, jumping right and ploughing through the fourth-last. While McManus is without Baracouda this Saturday and had to watch last week as Inglis Drever's owner, Graham Wylie, picked up the Racehorse Owners' Association owner of the year award ahead of him, he will have his Champion Hurdle hope Lingo batting for him in the Christmas Hurdle at Sandown on Boxing Day.
Jonjo O'Neill's six-year-old shot to prominence for the Blue Riband when trouncing a useful field to win the Greatwood Hurdle last month.
* Paul Eddery received a two-day ban for improper riding at Wolverhampton yesterday as did Fergal Lynch and Darren Williams for careless riding at Southwell.
LONG WALK HURDLE (Windsor, Saturday) Cashmans: 4-9 Inglis Drever. 4-1 No Refuge, 8-1 Crystal D'Ainay, 12-1 Brewster, 14-1 Mistanoora, 16-1 Starzaan, 50-1 Nathos, Hasty Prince.
Nap: Quote Unquote (Southwell 1.20)
NB: Jaunty Times
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