Cheltenham Festival 2019: Stayers Hurdle Preview
This race has the potential to cut up greatly. Supasundae could potentially run in the Champion Hurdle, Presenting Percy will go for the Gold Cup and Samcro is unlikely to run. Apple’s Jade is going to the Champion Hurdle and Top Notch will most likely run in the Ryanair.
That leaves two horses at the top of the market at very different stages of their careers. Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Faugheen has been brilliant down the years and ranks as one of my all-time favourite National Hunt horses. However, time has caught up with him since his Champion Hurdle win and injuries mean he has lost that undefeated record and has been hard to get a regular run in to. That being said, stepping him up to three miles at Punchestown at the end of last season saw him absolutely obliterate the current champion Penhill, who sadly will miss the race this year. At 10 years old though I think it is asking too much of Faugheen, as much as I would like to see him win this.
This race generally goes to a horse that has improved throughout the season, which is why it is no surprise to see Paisley Park lead the market here for the Emma Lavelle stable. His performance in the Cleeve Hurdle on trials day was absolutely savage and extinguished any doubts people had about him not handling the track after his poor run in last year’s Albert Bartlett novices hurdle. He has won all four starts this season proving he handles any track on any ground. Much like Altior, he does seem to hit a flat spot during his races but he loved coming up the hill on the last day. I know it is not very original tipping a favourite but it is hard to see anything opposing Paisley Park here and at 15/8, available with one bookmaker, I think it’s a great price. Especially when you consider if this horse heralded from a bigger stable synonymous with success at The Festival, he would probably be even money, if not shorter.
West Approach can be backed at 33/1 and warrants a good amount of each way respect considering he will go off shorter, due to the race cutting up and having chased home Paisley Park in his last two runs. This is arguably the best bit of form in this division either side of the Irish Sea. He is also a full brother to previous winner of this race Thistlecrack and it would not surprise me to see him pick up more prize money here for the Colin Tizzard stable.
Selection – Paisley Park @ 15/8 with Bet365 or West Approach @ 33/1 each way with Betfair