Stayers Hurdle Guide

Paisley Park

Trainer - Emma Lavelle

Jockey - Aidan Coleman

What A Horse.

He looks absolute bombproof and has won seven races on the bounce, including this race last year.

His engine is absolutely phenomenal and he simply looks untouchable. 

Last year he seemed to have a flat spot where either laziness or inexperience would show itself, but this year it seems to have disappeared and he looks better than ever. 

He’s won the Cleeve Hurdle again showing a turn of foot, he’s beaten 2016 Stayers Hurdle champion Thistlecrack when giving him weight. 

He’s odds on for a reason, he’s the most likely winner. 

Summerville Boy

Trainer - Tom George

Jockey - Jonathan Burke

Another ex festival winner as he claimed the supreme hurdle in a competitive renewal in 2018. Also another runner who’s failed at chasing and has been deemed a better hurdler. 

Despite starting the season over fences he lines up here after a squeaky win at a short price and a fall on his next start. 

A drop back to hurdles immediately paid dividends as he took the Relkeel hurdle on New Year’s Day beating Roksana.

The decision was made to try him over 3 miles and he tried to tap Paisley Park for toe in the Cleeve Hurdle.

Only for the champion 3 miler to quicken up just as well and toy with him up the run in. 

A solid attempt over 3 miles a concern would be he set the fractions out front in last time out and the pace was quite slow.

Will he get the trip with a strong pace set in front of him? 

City Island

Trainer - Martin Brassil

Jockey - Mark Walsh

The seven year old gelding took the Ballymore hurdle last year in convincing fashion.

He and Champ pulled clear up the hill and City Island just out battled his rival to the line. 

Sent chasing at the start of this campaign he failed to complete on debut when opposing Melon at the Christmas racing festival.

His jumping went to pieces late on and jockey Mark Walsh called it a day just after 2 out. 

Connections didn’t give up on the chasing game and he lined up again in January.

Again he lacked fluency and efficiency over fences and only managed a very remote 2nd to Carefully Selected. 

With his season as a chaser scrapped, a tilt at the stayers hurdle has been on the cards for a while.

Obviously he has form over 2 mile 5 furlongs with his Ballymore win and preparation but he’s yet to try 3 miles.

He could take it into his stride and show the required stamina, or lack the natural engine to get him home over nearly an extra half a mile. 

Emitom

Trainer - Warren Greatrex

Jockey - Gavin Sheehan

A great record of four wins in six runs over hurdles and two bumper wins on his CV.

This six year old gelding had a great breakout season over timber last year and only tasted defeat when bumping into Champ in the Sefton Hurdle at Aintree. 

Despite having form over 2 miles and 2.5 miles he did appear like the push up to 3 miles would bring the best out of him.

He got the trip brilliantly on his first try and only went down 3 lengths to the Henderson trained favourite. 

Seasonal reappearance saw him well beaten over an inadequate 2.5 miles around Cheltenham and he came 6th of six.

With the pipes opened he ran in the Rendlesham last time out and tanked into the race to seal his first win at 3 miles in a Grade 2 contest. 

With an impressive distance win in the books he does look to hold an each way prospect in this Grade 1 event. 

Penhill

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Paul Townend

Another former champion of this race, Penhill took the 2018 running at 12/1.

Potentially a weaker renewal than this year he still won the race well and outstayed Supasundae up the hill. 

He’s yet to notch a win since but missed all of last season injured.

This campaign he’s only managed a 6th, 3rd, 2nd and 3rd.

Beaten by Benie Des Dieux in the Galmoy hurdle easily and then a decent enough second in the Boyne Hurdle last time out. 

He might not be coming here on form but he has course form in the books and has shown what it takes to win this race.

He’s hard to fancy to win but has a credible place shout if returning to the form he showed in spring 2018. 

Apple's Jade

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey - Richard Johnson

A very, very special mare. She owes connections nothing as last season she ran absolute riot over Grade 1’s.

She was winning over 2 miles, 3 miles and anything in between. 

She has a really aggressive style of running, she pops out in front and runs her rivals into the ground with her massive engine. Maybe not the slickest in the air, her high cruising speed makes her so difficult to even get near to. 

But, she does have her moments where she throws in the towel, takes her ball home and gets moody.

Her brilliant days outweigh the days where she doesn’t shine but the former of the two is becoming the more frequent occurrence. 

If she’s on a going day she could really give Paisley Park a race. If she’s not, she might not even finish. 
If you back her, look out for something taking her on for the lead. It’s usually the clue that she’s going to throw the towel in. 

Bacardys

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Patrick Mullins

This will be his 3rd crack at this race and it’s still up for debate as to whether this is his optimum trip. 

In 2018 he appeared to be coming with a run only to clip the top bar of the last flight and knuckle on landing.

Only speculative as to where he possibly could’ve finished it did look to be quite a solid challenge he was mounting. 

2019’s renewal saw him stay on his feet and pick up late on well to snatch 6th place.

He wasn’t threatening the principal runners but was keeping on at the same pace throughout the run in. 

He’s now 9 years old but still appears to be best over the 2.5 mile trip and he even scalped Apple’s Jade in a Grade 2 contest this season.

He gets 3 miles, but not well enough to trouble those near the top of the market. 

L'Ami Serge

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Daryl Jacob

A really tricky horse to catch right, he’s no stranger to the festival having run in the supreme in 2016, the JLT in 2017 and this race in 2018.

In his 3 visits he’s hit the frame but has yet to yield a festival win. 

The 10 year old made his comeback at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle and looked the winner turning for home, still swinging away on the bridle.

He led until the last 75 yards where he just seemed to blow up and not quite get home. 

Plans for this race seemed to be solidified as he contested the Cleeve Hurdle last time out but was soundly put into his place in 7th of the 8 runners.

Off the back of that course and distance effort he’s quite hard to fancy as he’ll be against a lot of the same opposition. 

He still has plenty of talent and a run to his full ability could yield a surprising place. 

Lisnagar Oscar

Trainer - Rebecca Curtis

Jockey - Adam Wedge

Seven year old gelding who’s coming off the back of a failed career as a chaser.

He was a decent 5th in last year’s Albert Bartlett and followed that up with a 3rd place effort behind Champ and Emitom at Aintree. 

Two attempts chasing failed to produce a win, he was too careful over the obstacles and lost ground.

A return to hurdles originally didn’t go to plan as he finished a measly 9th in a Grade 3 handicap at Haydock.

A fall next time out looked like his season was in tatters but a bounce back to form in the Cleeve Hurdle showed promise.

A good 3rd behind Paisley Park and Summerville Boy brings him into this contest around 20/1

Not without an each way chance if he builds on his last run.

He’s still relatively young and can improve as a hurdler. 

Ronald Pump

Trainer - Matthew Smith

Jockey - B J Cooper

Has spent the season bouncing between hurdles and fences, but his form over the smaller obstacles has been quite progressive. Most recently a 2nd in a 3 mile Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown looks good form.

He just struggled to get to winner Treacyenniscorthy but closed the gap to 1 length despite giving the rival over two stone in weight. 

His chase form has yielded a win and a good place but hurdles is where he really shines, especially at 3 miles.

He’s won 3 races over this trip and the close 2nd last time out just further enhances his chances in this contest. 
Stamina is his speciality and despite qualifying for the Pertemps final earlier on the card connections have opted to try their luck in the Grade 1. 

Definitely not without each way chances in a code he does so well in. 

West Approach

Trainer - Colin Tizzard

Jockey - Harry Cobden

Younger brother to national hunt hero Thistlecrack, this horse definitely lives in his brother’s shadow.

He’s never quite achieved what he could have and has had spells over hurdles and fences.

Second in last year’s Cleeve Hurdle is his best run over timber in recent memory but he was soundly seen off in this race last year.

A relatively poor showing saw him come 9th and he was weakening out of contention from the last hurdle.  

He has some course form in the books and notched a solid win over fences earlier in the season.

Cheek pieces go on to maybe help his concentration. 

At 10 years old you could assume his best days are behind him and a good showing would come at quite the surprise. 

Tobefair

Trainer - Debra Hamer

Jockey - Tom Bellamy

Somewhat of a course specialist who was just touched off the in Pertemps Final last year.

Undoubtedly has a huge engine and will gallop all day. 

He stepped out of handicap company to try and tackle the Cleeve Hurdle last time out and wasn’t disgraced in fourth.

The way the race was run probably didn’t suit as it became a sprint but again he showed his engine and picked off rivals up the hill. 

In a more fiercely run race he could be a lot more effective, watching back all his previous runs at Cheltenham he flies up the hill late, his tactical speed might be an issue but he will assuredly gallop to the line. 

All of his last 5 runs have been here and he’s not finished worse than 4th. Probably worth keeping in mind in, just in case.  

The Jam Man

Trainer - Ronan M P McNally

Jockey - Sean Flanagan

Probably has a profile you could compare to Ronald Pump as he has really come alive this season and gone from strength to strength over hurdles and fences. 

He cranked out a sequence of wins early in the season and was a decent 4th in a Pertemps Final Qualifier back in January over course and distance.

He too has been beaten narrowly by Treacyenniscorthy in a 3 mile hurdle. 

Another one who has a lot to find in this kind of race, a good horse for handicaps but dipping his toe into Grade 1 company he’ll probably be found out.

He does stay the trip well but at a Championship level might struggle to go with those with more class. 

Donna's Diamond

Trainer - Chris Grant

Jockey - Thomas Dowson

Not this veteran’s first foray into this contest as in 2018 he was 11th of the 15 runners at 66/1.

Arguably that renewal was weaker than this one and he’ll be a big price again. 

The 11 year old did bounce back to some form last time out in the Rendlesham hurdle at Haydock and finished a very creditable 2nd in a grade 2 contest.

Emitom was a runaway winner in that race and drew clear from Donna’s Diamond quite easily on the run in. 

He did win the Rendlesham in February 2018 and this was actually his last win over hurdles.

He has plenty to find with his rivals in this strong race and might just be too vulnerable at the top table.

Roughly 66/1 again and it’s hard to see him getting into the mix. 

Ask Dillon

Trainer - Fergal O'Brien

Jockey - Paddy Brennan

Some very solid handicap form in the books this season over staying trips.

Most notably a really good 2nd last time out at Sandown in a grade 3 event. 

But, in this field it appears that he is way out of his depth and an official rating of 141 would make him the lowest officially rated horse in the race.

Only being 7 years old he’s open to plenty of improvement. 

His stable have been in flying form this season and he does definitely stay the distance

Nevertheless, he’s going to be a treble figure price when lining up for this and that is still potentially too short for him to get competitive against horses who are used to Grade 1 tests. 

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