The Stayers Hurdle is the top long distance hurdling race of the season and takes place at Cheltenham on Thursday at 3.30. Big Buck’s dominated this race with four consecutive victories between 2009 and 2012. Other multiple winners include Crimson Embers (1982, 1986), Baracouda (2002, 2003) and Inglis Drever (2005, 2007, 2008).
The ante-post favourite is Paisley Park, the winner of all four races this season for Emma Lavelle. He has progressed through handicaps to win the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle and Grade 2 Cleve Hurdle, both regarded as significant trials. He has already beaten many of his likely opponents in those races, striding clear impressively to beat West Approach by 12 lengths here last time. He comprehensively outstayed his rivals in the Cleve Hurdle and has been heavily supported from 6-1 into 2-1 clear favourite.
One horse that Paisley Park is yet to meet is former Champion Hurdler Faugheen. Willie Mullins is convinced that the eleven-year-old still has the talent to win a race of this nature, despite a fall at Leopardstown in December. He appeared to be going in vain pursuit of Apple’s Jade on that occasion. He did beat last year’s Stayers Hurdle winner Penhill by 13 lengths at Punchestown in April and must be respected.
Supasundae is game and consistent but has proved to be no match for Apple’s Jade this season. Jessica Harrington looks likely to side-step another clash with the mare in the Champion Hurdle in favour of this longer trip. He ran a fine race here 12 months’ ago when second to Penhill and should again make the frame this year.
Top Notch is an interesting contender from the Nicky Henderson stable. He was originally thought likely to contest the Ryanair Chase over two and a half miles. The Lambourn trainer clearly feels that his run behind Paisley Park at Ascot in December entitles him to go very close here.
West Approach also ran a mighty race at Ascot, briefly looking set to score a shock 40-1 victory. He was overhauled by Paisley Park on the run-in and beaten 2 lengths. That margin was extended to 12 lengths at Cheltenham last time but he still had some very useful stayers behind him.
Stayers Hurdle Betting Tips
PAISLEY PARK is one of the most progressive hurdlers in training and sets the standard here. Providing his four hard races have not taken their toll, he is the one they all have to beat. SUPASUNDAE will give each-way supporters a good run for their money while WEST APPROACH could also make the frame.