Following the news of Thyme Hill’s withdrawal, Paisley Park has a date with destiny in the Stayers Hurdle.
After winning the 2019 edition of the race, Emma Lavelle’s star could only manage to finish seventh the following year.
It was found out later on that the nine-year-old had an irregular heartbeat, which gave answers to his underwhelming performance.
Paisley Park has bounced back since that defeat last season, finishing second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury before making late headway to win the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle by a neck.
The gelding looks to be back at his best, and is clearly the one to beat here.
Dual Pertemps Final winner Sire Du Berlais lines up for Denise Foster, with hopes that the nine-year-old could land a festival hat-trick for the County Meath yard.
He is joined by stablemates The Storyteller, who has been consistent over both hurdles and fences this season, and Celebration Hurdle winner Fury Road.
Improving sort Flooring Porter makes the trip across the Irish Sea for Gavin Cromwell, with an impressive Grade 1 success under his belt already.
The five-year-old stunned Denise Foster’s trio of entrants here in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle, bolting up by six lengths.
His trainer is very capable of preparing his yard for big contest, with the late Espoir D’Allen springing a surprise for Cromwell in the 2019 Champion Hurdle.
A versatile runner, Flooring Porter could well have the ability to take on Paisley Park here.
Dan Skelton may be considering Roksana for this race instead of the Mares’ Hurdle following the withdrawal of Thyme Hill, while last year’s shock winner Lisnagar Oscar ran an impressive second in the Rendlesham Hurdle following wind surgery.
Boyne Hurdle victor Beacon Edge and stablemate Diol Ker are both entered under Noel Meade, while 2017 runner-up Lil Rockerfella heads to the Festival for potentially the final time.
This is arguably Paisley Park’s race to lose, but he will need to fend off some interesting competition to regain his crown.