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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Stayers’ Hurdle

The Cheltenham.co.uk team break down the third day’s feature race at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival

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2EB59DC Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 14, 2019 Aidan Coleman celebrates on Paisley Park after winning the 3.30 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Several top-class talents over the smaller obstacles feature in the Stayers’ Hurdle, with plenty of tough sorts ready to battle it out in the Grade 1 contest at Cheltenham.

FLOORING PORTER (5/2) holds favouritism for the contest as Gavin Cromwell’s star aims to retain his Stayers’ Hurdle crown.

The seven-year-old bolted ahead of his rivals in last year’s contest early on and stayed there, as the field failed to reel the gelding in as he went on to claim success by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 18, 2021 Danny Mullins riding Flooring Porter wins the 3.05 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle Pool via REUTERS/Michael Steele
Flooring Porter aims for back-to-back Stayers’ Hurdle successes at Cheltenham

The son of Yeats had failed to finish on his next two starts following Cheltenham, but he showed some ability when finishing two lengths behind the winner in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

He clearly has ability and if he is able to dictate the pace at the front, he could well be walking into the winners’ enclosure once again.

THYME HILL (7/2) hasn’t’ been seen since finishing second to Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot back in December, with connections opting to send the gelding to the Festival as fresh as possible.

The eight-year-old has been reliable over the smaller obstacles for Philip Hobbs, striking in Graded company on four occasions in the last three seasons.

Thyme Hill could break his Cheltenham Festival duck for his connections in the Stayers’ Hurdle

The gelding is yet to claim success this term, but he is a talent and he will be a tough nut to crack if he’s at his best.

Stablemate SPORTING JOHN (12/1) is likely to join him if connections decide to go for it here and not head to the Pertemps instead.

KLASSICAL DREAM (4/1) got the better of the favourite at Leopardstown over Christmas for Willie Mullins and he could well be a major player in this contest for his connections.

The gelding does carry some Cheltenham form as he struck in the Supreme back in 2019 and he was impressive on his first two starts over three miles, striking convincingly in both contests.

The eight-year-old was disappointing on his last start at Gowran Park but if he is back at his best here, he will be seriously tough to beat.

He could well be joined by stablemates ASTERION FORLONGE (10/1) and MELON (28/1), who both could be targeted for other races instead of this contest.

Versatile runner CHAMP (9/2) has been solid on his return over hurdles this season but he was unable to justify his odds-on price in the Cleeve Hurdle last time out for Nicky Henderson.

PAISLEY PARK (6/1) got the better of him on that occasion and he looked back to his best after digging deep to produce a momentous comeback to win by three lengths on the day.

2AR1AEC Paisley Park ridden by Aidan Coleman before the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Paisley Park could well be underestimated at the Cheltenham Festival this season

Emma Lavelle’s star looks great value at 6/1 currently, so he could well be one to watch for this contest.

Shock 2020 winner LISNAGAR OSCAR (33/1) is given another chance in the Grade 1 contest after a fairly respectable campaign for Rebecca Curtis, while Olly Murphy’s THOMAS DARBY (40/1) could snatch a place if back on song here.

Joseph O’Brien’s HOME BY THE LEE (50/1) and Gavin Cromwell’s DARVER STAR (50/1) looks the best of the remaining entries.

BEST SELECTIONS:

  • Klassical Dream @ 4/1
  • Paisley Park @ 6/1
  • Thomas Darby E/W @ 40/1

*Odds courtesy of bet365 and correct at time of writing

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.