Grade One Champion Stayers Hurdle Guide 2021

Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
5
Jonathan Moore

Flooring Porter

J:
 
Jonathan Moore
T:
 
Gavin Cromwell
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 164
Days: 42

A graduate from handicaps for Gavin Cromwell, Flooring Porter signed off his handicap exploits with a dominant front running display at Navan. 

He beat Pertemps final favourite The Bosses Oscar by 12 lengths giving him 1lb and showed just how big his engine was. 

He took the plunge into Grade One company on his second to last run in the Christmas Hurdle and caught the field out with his extravagant front running style. 

Bouncing out, making all to beat The Storyteller by six lengths. 

He then took it one step further in his career to land a hat-trick of wins and a quick-fire double in Group Ones when taking the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, not being caught from the front.

He has some impressive form on paper, and has to be the one to beat.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/12/21LEO24Sft11-122
07/11/21NAV20Gd12-0F
29/04/21PUN24Y11-12P
18/03/21CHL24GS11-101
28/12/20LEO24Sft11-121
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
3
Sean Flanagan

Beacon Edge

J:
 
Sean Flanagan
T:
 
Noel Meade
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 158
Days: 42

A runner for Noel Meade and Gigginstown House Stud, Beacon Edge has mainly been mixing it over 2.5 miles this campaign. 

Scoring a Grade Three win on his second run of the season, he was then only narrowly held by Honeysuckle in the Hatton's Grace. 

Next beaten by the classy Bachasson when giving away 7lbs, the form of that run has worked out well with that rival having one of his best seasons to date. 

He was then seen beating owner mate Fury Road in the Boyne Hurdle he just seemed to have too much finishing kick for his rival and just got up late to victory when in receipt of 2lbs. 

Having not been tested over three miles he went into the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and being very unexposed, with one hurdle to take he looked a big player.

He just got tired late on and had to settle for fourth, but it was a solid run and if managing to have more in the tank for the latter stages of this race, he is another big each way player.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/11/21FAI20Gd11-121
29/10/21DRO19.5Sft12-02
29/04/21PUN24Y11-12F
18/03/21CHL24GS11-104
21/02/21NAV21Hy11-81
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
9
Keith Donoghue

Ronald Pump

J:
 
Keith Donoghue
T:
 
Matthew J Smith
Age: 8
Weight: 11-12
OR: 157
Days: 151

Having spent last season bouncing between hurdles and fences, his form over the smaller obstacles has been quite progressive and now looks to be staying over this code.

He ended last season giving a career best performance when finishing a narrow second in the Grade One Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

Back this term at Navan he fell on seasonal debut when mounting a challenge in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle, but bounced back immediately at Fairyhouse when a very close second to Honeysuckle in the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

Having picked up an injury after that race he has not been seen since, but is now said to be back to his best, the step back up to three miles could bring more improvement and can't be overlooked.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/12/21LEO24Sft11-127
18/12/21ASC24.5GS11-75
28/11/21FAI20Gd11-122
22/05/21AUT25.5VSft10-105
29/04/21PUN24Y11-123
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
12
Denis O'Regan

The Storyteller

J:
 
Denis O'Regan
T:
 
Mrs Denise Foster
Age: 10
Weight: 11-12
OR: 155
Days: 42

The Storyteller is a highly consistent yardstick for the Cullentra stable having won Graded races over both hurdles and fences and this term has performed well over both.

A Cheltenham festival winner, the nine year old has been in fine form of late racing eight times since July, winning four of them and placing in another three.

Having been an extremely lucky Grade One winner in 2018, he gave one of his best performances for a while when landing a Grade Three at Punchestown.

He has won 11 races during his career including on his seasonal debut when he went on to shock a superb field at Down Royal to take the Grade One Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

He was sent back over hurdles next time out in the Christmas Hurdle over three miles at Leopardstown and was a staying on second behind the smart Flooring Porter, who obviously franked the form.

Sent back over fences for the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival, he was a superb two length second to Kemboy.

The Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival had always been the plan this term and although staying well he could only get up for fifth.

This field is full of similar runners and he will be have to be better than that run to go close, however he is an each way player.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/04/21PUN24Y11-127
18/03/21CHL24GS11-105
07/02/21LEO24.5Sft11-122
28/12/20LEO24Sft11-122
31/10/20DRO24Y11-121
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
7
Jack Kennedy

Fury Road

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Mrs Denise Foster
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 154
Days: 42

A Grade Two winning novice hurdler for Cullentra house last season, Fury Road rounded out his novice campaign in the Albert Bartlett at the festival. 

He was just held behind Monkfish and was third by only a neck. One of the strongest races of the festival it certainly earmarked him for greatness. 

Moving into open company this year he mopped up a Grade Two on return. Sent off favourite for the Christmas Hurdle he’s yet another in this list caught out by Flooring Porter’s front running antics. 

Next seen in the Boyne Hurdle he was collared on the line by faster finishing owner-mate Beacon Edge. 

Judging by his impressive showing in the Albert Bartlett and getting well backed before the off, he was well fancied to run a big race in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham but flopped when being pulled up.

He could still have some untapped potential at the trip, but this look to be last chance saloon.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/12/21LEO24Y11-121
28/11/21FAI20Gd11-123
09/11/21FAI21Gd/Y12-02
29/04/21PUN24Y11-12P
18/03/21CHL24GS11-10P
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
15

Mrs Milner

J:
 
T:
 
Paul Nolan
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 139
Days: 42

The six year old has been a highly consistent horse for the yard over the last few seasons showing win and place form over two and three miles.

This season the mare made her debut at Galway in July and and was a good winner of a Mares Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

She then went to Ballinrobe and finished a good third a in a similar event when stepping up to 2m6f and was upped to three miles next time out at Cheltenham in November.

She finished a superb neck second to On The Blind Side for Nicky Henderson that day, who has since gone on to frank the form, placing in a Grade Two and winning a strong event after that.

Next time out Mrs Milner was a good fourth of 20 runners in a Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle over three miles at Leopardstown.

The mare then headed to the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown and when going nicely fell in a top handicap hurdle, with the form of the race working out extremely well.

Putting that fall behind her she turned up at the Cheltenham festival as a well backed player in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle and under a great ride by Bryan Cooper landed the 22 runner event.

She will have to step up now taking on a Group One coming out of a handicap, but getting the mares allowance and being highly progressive leaves her with place claims.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/11/21NBY24GS10-114
10/10/21LIM22.5Sft11-21
18/03/21CHL24GS10-91
07/02/21LEO18Sft/Hy11-1F
28/12/20LEO24Sft10-84
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
14
Richard Condon

Heaven Help Us

J:
 
Richard Condon
T:
 
Paul Hennessy
Age: 7
Weight: 11-5
OR: 144
Days: 43

Heaven Help Us for Paul Hennessy has been a horse of a lifetime for the yard this term, being ran frequently and getting the penny to drop towards the business part of the season.

Having not showed that much form before the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, she went on to superbly land the 20 runner Mares Handicap Hurdle.

The form of that race has been insane, with Heaven Help Us, second, third, fourth and Mrs Milner who fell all coming out and winning good events since.

Heaven Help Us made it a Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham festival double when going from the front and landing the Grade Three Coral Cup.

It was a superb performance and she looks like she will be suited by the step up in trip, but going up to three miles is a whole different ball game.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/12/21LEO20Y/Sft11-12
11/12/21CHL17GS10-114
14/11/21PUN18Gd/Y11-16
29/04/21PUN24Y11-50
17/03/21CHL21GS10-21
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
4
Mark Walsh

Diol Ker

J:
 
Mark Walsh
T:
 
Noel Meade
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 151
Days: 19

Another for Noel Meade and Gigginstown, Diol Ker scalped Monkfish last season in a maiden hurdle. Holding off the prince of staying novice chasers by an impressive seven lengths. 

Not seen for the rest of the season he tried his hand in novice chases but really struggled over the bigger obstacles. 

Unable to string any form together he dropped back to hurdles and immediately got back in the winner's enclosure.  

Two starts ago he was seen over three miles in the Galmoy Hurdle where he looked the winner late on. Hampered at the last he showed determination to rally close home, only to be collared by Sams Profile on the line. 

He looked a real prospect over three miles and is still unexposed over the trip, but last time out did take a backwards step at Aintree in the Grade One Stayers' Hurdle when a weak ninth.

Only seven years old he’s likely still improving and looks much more comfortable over hurdles than he has over fences, but needs to bounce back in a big way here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
01/01/22FAI21.5Y12-02
04/12/21NAV20Y11-99
20/11/21GOW20Sft11-95
31/10/21COR20Hy11-2F
29/04/21PUN24Y11-126
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
6
Rachael Blackmore

French Dynamite

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
M F Morris
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 150
Days: 24

Having shown ability last term in minor events, the expensive six year old has been seen thrice this term in Graded company and performed well.

French Dynamite made his seasonal debut in November at Navan when just being beaten by dual Cheltenham festival winner Sire Du Berlais in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle.

He was then stepped up to three miles next time out at Leopardstown in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle and although running well for the most part of the race, faded late on when not staying the trip.

He dropped back to 2m2f at Leopardstown in a small runner event and ran out a very easy winner at 1/7.

Having had a nice confident booster, the gelding went into a Grade Two event at Fairyhouse and finished a narrow second to the rejuvenated Stormy Ireland over 2m4f.

He has questions to answer over this trip and at Grade One level and may be vulnerable.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
13/11/21PUN19.5Y12-01
31/10/21COR20Hy11-25
29/04/21PUN24Y11-124
05/04/21FAI20Y11-82
07/03/21LEO18.5Y11-121
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
8
Mr P W Mullins

Klassical Dream

J:
 
Mr P W Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 157
Days: 487

Two seasons ago the five year old was unstoppable winning all four of his contests will relative ease picking up three Grade Ones as a novice at Leopardstown, Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and finally at the Punchestown festival.

He came back last season as the Champion Hurdle favourite and unfortunately was not as impressive as his previous season on return when third in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle.

He tried to put that right at Leopardstown in the Grade One Matherson Hurdle, but did not travel like the same horse as last season and ultimately tailed off after a poor jump mid way through the race and came home last of the five runners.

Having not been seen since December 2019, he was planning to go over fences, but has been withdrawn on numerous occasions at the last moment before his proposed chase debuts,

He steps up to three miles having only been seen over two in the past and after that long off he may be best watched on his return and first try at three miles.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/12/21LEO24Sft11-121
29/04/21PUN24Y11-121
29/12/19LEO16Y11-105
16/11/19PUN16.5Sft11-103
30/04/19PUN16.5Y11-121
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
11
Mr J J Codd

Sole Pretender

J:
 
Mr J J Codd
T:
 
Norman Lee
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 150
Days: 25

Sole Pretender for trainer Norman Lee looks to be another runner in this field that could be making up the numbers, although being a smart horse in his own right, today he steps up in trip to three miles for the first time in his career.

During his career he has been a very consistent horse between 2m and 2m4f, winning six of his 10 events and placing in another two.

Having not raced for close to two years, he made a nice seasonal return at Cork at the start of April when seeing off the likes of Bapaume and Wonder Laish.

That run was over two miles and there should be big fears about him stepping up a further mile at Grade One level on only his second start back after an injury.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/07/21GAL16Gd10-128
01/07/21TIP16Gd/Y11-31
29/04/21PUN24Y11-125
04/04/21COR16Gd10-131
15/08/19TRM16Gd11-02
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
10
Danny Mullins

Saldier

J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 156
Days: 44

Seemingly the third string for Willie Mullins’ three pronged attack at the Champion Stayers' Hurdle, Saldier has really failed to build upon the promise he showed in 2018 and 2019. 

Most notably travelling all over Espoir D’Allen at Naas in a Grade Three in late 2018 until a fall put paid to his chances. Espoir D’Allen famously went on to score a record breaking win in the 2019 Champion Hurdle. 

This season has yielded two sixth place finishes and a seventh in Grade One contests. Paul Townend has seen the writing on the wall in all three runs and began easing his mount down instead of applying unnecessary pressure, in his last two events 

He’s been really poor this season, with his latest seventh in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival summing up what the horse has become.

The gelding step up to three miles for the first time in his career on Thursday and it looks more out of desperation than hope that he will take to it.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
28/12/21LEO24Sft11-12P
28/11/21FAI20Gd11-125
03/10/21TIP16Y11-31
29/07/21GAL16Gd11-101
15/06/21ASC14GF9-95
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
1
C Williams

Agrapart

J:
 
C Williams
T:
 
Mrs Jane Williams
Age: 10
Weight: 11-12
OR: 146
Days: 33

The 10 year old is now a veteran of the sport having been a smart hurdler over the years, but now looks to be coming to the end of his career and can be opposed.

The Jane Williams trained animal's biggest success came back in 2018 when landing the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Since then he has been hit and miss, not performing well in handicap hurdle events and although winning last time out at Kelso that standard of race is extremely poor compared to this event and it would take a miracle.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
04/11/21NBY24Gd11-97
10/10/21GOO16Sft11-129
17/09/21AUT19.5VSft11-19
29/04/21PUN24Y11-120
27/03/21KEL26GS11-71
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
13
Brian Hayes

James Du Berlais

J:
 
Brian Hayes
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 5
Weight: 11-11
OR: 155
Days: 44

Who?! You might ask. James Du Berlais is a French recruit from Isaac Souede and Simon Munir that’s been taken to Closutton to be trained by Willie Mullins.

A multiple Grade Three winner over hurdles in his native France, it’s very hard to assess just how good this one could be.  He’s won over 19.5 furlongs and he’s at home on deep ground.

He made his British and yard debut at the Cheltenham festival in the Champion Hurdle and was severely outclassed, with the drying ground also not to his liking.

He is being stepped up to three miles for his Irish debut and it looks a very strange tactic.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/04/21PUN24Y11-112
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-109
15/11/20AUT19.5Hy10-82
18/10/20AUT19.5Hy10-81
26/09/20AUT18VSft10-82
Punchestown - April 28 2021
Punchestown 16:25
2
Sean O'Keeffe

Bacardys

J:
 
Sean O'Keeffe
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 10
Weight: 11-12
OR: 150
Days: 42

A real consistent one for Mullins down the years, Bacardys will be contesting his fourth Stayers’ Hurdle this year.  2018 he was about to deliver his challenge when coming down at the last flight. 

2019 he was well held behind Paisley Park. The division changed shape when the King of the stayers turned up on the scene and Bacardys struggled to get involved. 

Last year, with Apple’s Jade going off hard and Paisley Park floundering with a heart issue, Bacardys ran into third at an almighty price in a great performance. 

However, he’s struggled this season. Fourth in the Hatton's Grace, pulled up in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle and fifth in the Galmoy. 

He tried his arm in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival last time out and was outclassed into seventh once more and his best days now look behind him.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/11/21GOW20Sft12-02
29/04/21PUN24Y11-129
18/03/21CHL24GS11-107
28/01/21GOW24Hy11-105
28/12/20LEO24Sft11-12P

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