Stayers Hurdle Preview
The Cheltenham Festival never fails to thrill and we’ve already had a shock in one of the ‘Big Four’ races at the Festival in the Champion Hurdle. It was billed as a race between the big three – Laurina, Apples Jade and Buveur D’Air. The script got chucked out the window when Buveur D’Air fell but both mares later on the mares flopped and the Cheltenham Hurdle crown was passed to young pretender Espoir D’Allen but I expect this race to be a case of an Altior situation when the favourite obliges.
PAISLEY PARK is the stand out stayer of the season by miles and, as a result, is the favourite. He has won his last few and began this winning run with a sweeping late surge to land a grade three round Haydock, then the JLT Hurdle (Grade One) and finally the Cleeve Hurdle last time. He beat West Approach, Black Op, Sam Spinner, Wholestone and The Mighty Don. West Approach is a half brother to the mighty Thistlecrack, who runs in the Gold Cup. He is in no way as classy as Thistlecrack but he has been showing bits and pieces of ability back over hurdles when following in Paisley Park. He has each way claims but Paisley Park will need to flop for him to reverse the placings. Connections deserve a big winner and I really hope Paisley Park can run well and not flop like Sam Spinner did at the festival last year.
Jedd O’Keeffe’s chestnut gelding, who is almost as orange as his colours, won his two races before the festival but then was fifth in this race last year and third at the Aintree Festival behind Identity Thief and Wholestone. He hasn’t been the same horse as last after unseated on his first two starts but put in an improved performance last time out.
Wholestone has kind of lost his way a little bit since winning a Hurdle race at Aintree in November and he was beaten thirty eight lengths by Paisley Park. He’s a decent horse in his own right as he has won three grade ones. His stablemate is Top Notch and he is the preferred of the two based on jockey bookings. He’s a classy chaser but ran over hurdles this season on his first start and Paisley Park beat him by almost six lengths in December so he has a bit to find with him. He won well last time but may not be suited to this.
Black Op was second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year and has since won a Grade One over hurdles and then went chasing. He didn’t have much luck over the large obstacles when he followed in Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation. He was beaten fourteen lengths behind Paisley Park last time. Kilbricken Storm won the Albert Bartlett last year, with Paisley Park behind, and went novice chasing but didn’t take to that and theyve come here instead of one of the chases. He loves it round here and could go well. Yanworth is also a decent chaser but ran very poorly last time and was pulled up sharply in a grade two at Haydock. He has a bit to find and last time out was a worry.
Faugheen is such a loveable old soul and it would bring the house down if he could win this race. He had the most horrible fall last time out and I’m hoping he can bounce back to form and run as well as he did at the Punchestown Festival in April. He’s getting on a bit in the age department but I’m hoping he can produce a big run.
Willie Mullins trains him and he also has three other runners- Bacardys, Bapaume and Coquin Mans. Bacardys has quite a few Fs by his name lately but he was a very classy novice and is a grade one winner. Bapaume is the second string from the stable and he has followed in Apples Jade and Presenting Percy the last three times. He won a grade two in France on heavy in June so will handle the ground. Coquin Man is a good horse and won a grade two in April beating Bapaume but that form was reversed in that French Grade Two. The ground will be in his favour.
The Mighty Don won a Pertemps Qualifier over course and distance but connections opt for running here. He’s be a shock winner. As would Man of Plenty and Nautical Nitwit. The former won a Listed race on heavy going but isn’t up to this class. Nautical Nitwit won the Yorkshire Hurdle beating Keeper Hill, who won a Pertemps Qualifier on his penultimate start then disappointed last time. He’d be better off in that race in my opinion.
Paisley Park (NAP) and Kilbricken Storm Each Way.
REST OF THE CARD
R1- LOSTINTRANSLATION- Has lots of good form in behind La Bague Au Roi and he won the Dipper at this course by one and a quarter lengths to Defi Du Seuil but was then second to that horse at Sandown. I think my selection is more gutsy and is well suited to Cheltenham.
R2- FIRST ASSIGNMENT- Won over this course on his first two starts including a Listed race that he ran away with. Ran into grade one winner Paisley Park and then Keeper Hill when qualifying and both of these go to the Stayer. Has a big chance.
R3- ROAD TO RESPECT- This race is very open but this horse is very classy. He won the Irish Champion Chase and is a course and distance winner. Should go well.
R4- PAISLEY PARK
R5- SIRUH DU LAC- He is a very progressive young chaser and jumps really well. He’s won all of his starts this season, including a grade three round here.
R6- SANCTA SIMONA- won a grade three and then was second in a grade one so has the class for this and could unwind the favourite who can be very keen.
R7- ANY SECOND NOW- Bit stuck on this race as my fancy annoyingly was second reserve but I think this horse is a good alternative. He is sure to stay and has the best amateur jockey on board!