Stayers Hurdle Guide

17. Paisley Park

Trainer - Emma Lavelle

Jockey - Aidan Coleman

One to beat in this race, ridden by Aidan Coleman this time out as well and is the favourite in the run up based on the sudden four wins in a row at Aintree, Haydock, Ascot and Cheltenham last time out. Likes the course over 3m on soft ground under the same jockey too. Grade 2 and Grade 1 winners over this distance and will take it easy on the pace up until the last few to finish strongly if possible but a festival ride is never easy and will need to prove its favouritism and could well do.

9. Faugheen

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Ruby Walsh

Course & Distance winner Faugheen, among the most infamous of this field being the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner and fell in the Christmas Hurdle behind Apple’s Jade at Leopardstown last time out. Previously won at Punchestown over 3m to prove the winning mark is still in sight, for this grade 1 class 1 horse. Looked to be in contention when falling last time out under Ruby Walsh but the combination between jockey and trainer could be too much for the field to see Faugheen in prime condition as before if anything like the champion hurdle days.

21. Supasundae

Trainer - Jessica Harrington

Jockey - Robbie Power

Won the Irish Champion hurdle last year but has since placed each time and narrowly missing out on the final push to get another coveted grade 1 win. Tongue tied this time and equipment might be all it takes to gain that extra bit of speed and distance to get another win. Often raced on shorter trips but the step up could be wise decision as Fairyhouse second place suggests. One of the ones to watch out for here and is, if anything, a strong stayer over hurdles.

4. Black Op

Trainer - Tom George

Jockey - Noel Fehily

Will race keenly and head up the field in this race as a pace leader among other horses, smart hurdler too which helps when looking at the form last season but has only placed and narrowly missed out on winning marks over Cheltenham in January when third. Under Noel Fehily again though, an experienced rider at the festival and could prove those respectable places in the lead up to bring more over the line this time out.

11. Kilbricken Storm

Trainer - Colin Tizzard

Jockey - Harry Cobden

Won the Albert Bartlett last season at Ffos Las but has disappointed in his jumping form since then but comes off a break which could prove pivotal for Colin Tizzard’s chances. The Newbury performance could be forgiven and will need to improve dramatically if to win here with the biggest festival of horse racing in Britain. But a return to form over grade 1’s at Punchestown in April of last year over soft ground, meaning he could prefer the ground over here this time out.

23. Top Notch

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Daryl Jacob

Another strong contender with a bold pace, will likely be in the front runners from the start and will need to settle like he has over the last few races like the win last time out at Kempton over 2m 5f on good ground in January. Wins between places suggest another strong stayer that could prove tricky to beat but this chaser came third to Paisley Park over the hurdles at Ascot before that win at Kempton and will need to find a bit more to overtake the favourite in this large field.

2. Bacardys

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - P. W. Mullins

Despite the fall last year looked as though would finish strongly and place better than recent form and so should be taken into account coming into this one. But does struggle over fences, in great hands with the Mullins’ crew though, with the opening two races of the festival already in the bag and the weather looking like it’ll benefit his type of staying horses.

5. Coquin Mans

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - D. J. Mullins

Developed into a smart hurdler last season, winning 3 times, including a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse. However, hasn't returned in the same form. Last win was last year at Fairyhouse in April over 2m 4f on heavy ground and so may do well if ground continues to be punished over the course of the festival. Has since come out form with a best 4th at Punchestown in the same month as the last win. Went up in trip though, and that could have proved to be the defning nature of his struggles and coming back down in trip could return back to form but will need all to beat the likes of class 1 horses.

18. Petit Mouchoir

Trainer - Henry De Bromhead

Jockey - Rachael Blackmore

Finished 21 lengths behind Apple’s Jade in Irish Champion hurdle but that can be forgiven given the pedigree of the grade 1’s he’s faced. In best form over the season in 2017 and will have to return to that form this time out if to get some result out of this race. Hasn’t matched that form and hasn’t come overly close to winning since, with many unplaced and places building up the stayers hurdle potential. Definitely proven himself to be a contender at least here but will need to improve to stand a chance.

3. Bapaume

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - W. P. Mullins, Ireland

Notably came second to Presenting Percy at Gowran Park last time out. Another Willie Mullins shot, who also is a great hurdler who won the Group 2 last year at Auteuil over 2m 3f over soft ground. Yet to race on the Cheltenham Festival testing grounds as only 6 in comparison to some other 8 yo horses in this field.

25. Wholestone

Trainer - Nigel Twiston-Davies

Jockey - Sam Twiston-Davies

Finished well in this race last year and a success at Aintree in November marks the last win, showing signs of struggling in grade 2s when switching between distances at Cheltenham and Newbury. A place under different jockey in January at Cheltenham but can always stay on to pick up places, much like most horses in this field so will need to produce much more than we’ve seen in recent form. The ninth place last time out could be a discrepancy and again places maybe all the Twiston-Davies family can hope for against better inform horses in this field.

20. Sam Spinner

Trainer - Jedd O'Keffe

Jockey - Joe Colliver

Comes up against some more experienced horses who stay on better, with two unseated riders against his name at Ascot in December and Newbury in November over 3m on soft ground. Always finishes a close placed but never really a contender who will stay on and finish like the pace he has. Will head up the front though, and like to lead the pack all the way home and if on form will need to hold out for longer to get a result. Came fourth last time out at Cheltenham and if continuing to improve over this course could well produce something and doesn’t mind the softer ground.

24. West Approach

Trainer - Colin Tizzard

Jockey - Tom Scudamore

Finished ahead of Top Notch at Ascot but still just 2l off of favourite Paisley Park. Finished behind Paisley Park once again though and will need to find more to better him this time out but a larger field and the nature of the festival chases gives the odds a slightly better chance but will probably be best off placing among this field of strong stayers. Travels well over these longer distances and will be hoping for more rain as can also travel well over soft ground.

22. The Mighty Don

Trainer - Nick Gifford

Jockey - Leighton Aspell

Last win in a similar sized field at Cheltenham last season, and hasn’t stepped back up to that mark since. With the last run out at Cheltenham in January being far off the places. Will need to improve here to contend against the likes of these grade 1’s but all to play for still under the capable hand of Aspell riding again. Likes the distance as the race suggests in this field and will rear up the field when travelling throughout but will need that bit extra to finish well.

26. Yanworth

Trainer - Alan King

Jockey - Barry Geraghty

Largely underperformed when under pressure in this race last year and will need to improve more if going to win or place. Has since come up trumps at Cheltenham though, back in January on soft ground when beating the field well under Barry Geraghty. Pulled up and fallen on recent form may put off the punters in a race dominated by horses who can finish better but if returning to pace and form of previous seasons could be an outside chance or place maker for one of just a few of Alan King’s contenders in this years’ festival.

10. Keeper Hill

Trainer - Warren Greatrex

Jockey - Richard Johnson

Under the champion jockey Richard Johnson, looks a good contender against the likes of Paisley Park but disappointed at Sandown last time out on a Handicap hurdle race, under Harry Teal. Has improved since switching back to hurdles however, proven when winning at Warwick in January, over 3m 1f on good ground. A close second at Cheltenham prior to that as well suggests he could travel well under these festival conditions and likes the course on good ground. Outside chance but still has plenty to prove.

15. Nautical Nitwit

Trainer - Phillip Kirby

Jockey - Thomas Dowson

Has plenty of the pace among this field and will look to head up the field in this race to keenly lead from near the front but will have to continue stronger than before if to finish like at Wetherby in November and October on good ground both over 3m which is a clear favoured distance. Stays well though and that could prove crucial in a race like this one where it produces results among the larger fields and this is no different with nearly 20 horses declared for the stayers hurdles. Won well in that grade 2 but could be too much to prove in this grade 1 among the likes of Paisley Park in better form.

13. Man Of Plenty

Trainer - Sophie Leech

Jockey - Jonathan Burke

Man of Plenty may not have plenty of chance here as many others preferred over a grade that could prove too much. Unplaced in the last four races with a best 5th over at Ascot in January and a penultimate finish at Haydock last time out over 3m on good ground. Last win and decent performance came over a Class 1 handicap hurdles at Sandown in December, but will need to show a considerable improvement to place anywhere over this distance among some proven grade 1 horses.

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