Rebecca Curtis is under no illusions about the task facing Lisnagar Oscar in the Howden Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
The 2020 Stayers’ Hurdle hero made a pleasing start to his campaign when third at Aintree and connections were in optimistic mood ahead of his latest outing in the Long Distance Hurdle.
Lisnagar Oscar was a well-beaten fifth at Newbury, but Curtis believes she has a viable excuse for why he underperformed.
“Newbury was a nightmare really. He ripped off a shoe and scraped his heel, so that’s what we’re putting his disappointing run down to,” said the Newport-based trainer.
“He was very disappointing on the day, but when he came back you could see he’d kept banging into his heel and ripped his shoe off. Adam (Wedge) said he stopped four out and then sort of ran on again.”
The eight-year-old could renew rivalry with the first three from Newbury in Thomas Darby, On The Blind Side and dual Long Walk winner Paisley Park.
With likely favourite Buzz, Thyme Hill and Irish raider Ronald Pump adding further strength in depth, Lisnagar Oscar is a 25-1 shot with William Hill.
Curtis added: “He seems to be back in good form and I think Ascot should suit him better (than Newbury) with a bit of cut in the ground as well.
“It’s a very strong race, but we’ll give it a go and see what happens.”