Cheltenham Tips: Stayers' Hurdle Preview For Day 3 at The Festival

Cheltenham Tips: Stayers' Hurdle Preview For Day 3 at The Festival
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10 horses go to post for one of the most open renewals of the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle in recent years.

It's 3/1 the field and six of the 10 runners are trading at single-figure odds with the best betting sites. There are several high-class staying hurdlers knocking around but none of them are, seemingly, outstanding.

Is there a potential staying hurdle star amongst this year's contenders? Champ and Klassical Dream were the most likely not so long ago. but both have blotted their copybooks since.



Don’t Rule Out Champ

Champ's laboured finishing effort in the Cleeve Hurdle at the end of January came as quite a surprise given, he had looked so good when winning the Long Walk Hurdle on seasonal return.

However, it's probably too early to give up on Champ. Some of his chase form is top class, notably his defeat of Minella Indo in the 2020 RSA Chase, and he could easily still emerge as the best staying hurdler around.

Dead, sapping ground might just have taken their toll on Champ in the closing stages of the Cleeve and it would come as no surprise were he to leave that form a long way behind under today's much more suitable conditions.

Champ’s Cleeve Hurdle conqueror, Paisley Park, clearly still has plenty to offer despite becoming trickier as he gets older, but he’s a 10-year-old now and no horse older than nine has won a Stayers’ Hurdle since 1986.

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Dream Needs to Bounce Back

As for Klassical Dream, he's a previous Cheltenham Festival winner as well. His future looked about as bright as it gets after he won three Grade 1 events in 2019, including the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

His career as a staying hurdler appeared to be going extremely well up until he dropped away tamely in the closing stages of a Gowran Park Grade 2 event, in which he was carrying a Grade 1 penalty.

According to Racing Post Ratings, Klassical Dream's performance was 20lb inferior to the one he put up at Leopardstown over Christmas, where he saw off reigning Stayers' Hurdle champ Flooring Porter by a couple of comfortable lengths.

For whatever reason, Klassical Dream was way below his best last time but, like Champ, he has the ability to bounce back and his record suggests he's at his best in the spring. He simply cannot be discounted.

The winner of that Gowran Park race, Royal Kahala, is a 148-rated mare that (even getting the 7lb allowance) needs to find further improvement to have a chance of winning a race like this. The advantage for her is that she appears best suited by soft ground and conditions at Prestbury Park are starting to turn in her favour.

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Crowds Could Hinder Porter

Flooring Porter was such a dominant winner of the 2021 Stayers’ Hurdle that he deserves his place among the market leaders once again. There was nothing wrong with his keeping-on effort behind Klassical Dream at Leopardstown, especially as the winner stole a march as the tape went up.

Ordinarily, Flooring Porter would be the more likely to run his race on Thursday, which might be enough to win it again, but he’s a horse that can get buzzed up and connections are concerned that the hullabaloo of a Cheltenham Festival might just stir him up in a manner that would impact on his ability to perform optimally.

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Thyme Could Be Right for Hill

Philip Hobbs has never won a Stayers’ Hurdle but he’s probably not had too many horses with as strong a chance as Thyme Hill, who looks nailed on to get the strong pace he excels at chasing down.

The dual Grade 1-winning 8-year-old already has one big Cheltenham Festival effort to his name having gone close in the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle won by the mighty Monkfish, and he looks primed for a big showing this year because drying ground is up his street.

He heads into the race a fresh horse and he was less than two lengths behind Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle despite having raced keenly off a steady enough gallop early on.

Everything looks set for him to produce a career best and odds of 4/1 with horse racing betting sites make plenty of appeal.

Stayers Hurdle Verdict

This is a tough race to call given there are so many question marks about the main protagonists.

But, a decent pace looks assured and that is going to set things up nicely for THYME HILL who should be bursting to run having not been seen since the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.

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