Cheltenham Festival: Stayers' Hurdle Betting Preview

Martin Green

Sunday, March 3, 2019 9:09 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 3, 2019 9:09 PM UTC

The legendary Faugheen will return to Cheltenham for a crack at the Grade 1 Stayers' Hurdle, but Paisley Park is the favourite for success.

<h2>Stayers’ Hurdle 2019</h2><p>The Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle is the leading long-distance hurdle event in the National Hunt season and the showpiece event on day three at the <a href="" target="_blank" title="Cheltenham Festival">Cheltenham Festival</a>. It is an epic contest that it typically turns into a thrilling battle down the home straight, and this year’s renewal should be no different. It takes place over 3 miles on the New Course at Cheltenham and there are 12 hurdles to be jumped. The prize money stands at £325,000 and several leading lights will line up in a bid to seize the lion’s share.</p><p>The Stayers’ Hurdle began life in 1912 and it has been a key highlight in the Cheltenham Festival for more than a century. Notable past winners include Baracouda, Inglis Drever and Big Buck’s, who won it four times in a row under Ruby Walsh between 2009 and 2012. Last year’s champion, Willie Mullins’ Penhill, has been ruled out of a title defence and the field looks wide open.</p><h2>Stayers’ Hurdle odds</h2><p>Emma Lavelle’s seven-year-old stayer, Paisley Park, is in superb form this season and heads the antepost markets in this race. <a href=";a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b" target="_blank" title="William Hill ">William Hill</a> has gone as low as 5/4 on him claiming victory, but <a href=";a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" target="_blank" title="Bet365">Bet365</a> is offering a market leading 15/8 and more than half of all bets so far have been placed on him winning. He is on a four-race winning streak, a run that includes a famous victory in the Grade 1 JLT Hurdle at Ascot in December and the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. He has shown he likes the course and he should be able to handle the slight step up in trip, so his popularity is understandable.</p><p>Samcro has been entered and he could make things interesting if he makes it to the festival. He triumphed in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last season and he was expected to have a crack at the Champion Hurdle this time around. However, after a winless campaign, trainer Gordon Elliott said that if he goes to Cheltenham it will be to run in the Stayers’ Hurdle. He is now over a lung infection and could thrive once more at this course, but he needs to improve on the form he has displayed thus far this season.</p><p>The real wildcard is Faugheen. He was once one of the highest-rated stayers in the business, before losing his way somewhat amid injuries and a loss of form. He is now 11 years old, but lightly raced, with just 20 runs under his belt and 14 wins. He has previously seized victory in the Champion Hurdle and the Neptune and has proven himself time and time again at Grade 1, and he is now set for a first ever run at 3 miles. He is bidding for a third Cheltenham Festival win and in the past week he has been backed all the way in from 10/1 to 4/1 with most bookmakers, although Bet365 still has 5/1.</p><h2>Stayers’ Hurdle tips</h2><p>The heart says Faugheen, but the head argues that he has been on the slide in recent times and he could well flop. Paisley Park looks promising, but unconvincing, and a longer each-way shot might be in order. Kilbricken Storm is 16/1 with William Hill and <a href=";a=8ec6399a-9df1-4c52-b272-39e6428836a6" target="_blank" title="Betfair">Betfair</a>. The eight-year-old claimed the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival and placed at Punchestown the following month. He struggled on his seasonal reappearance, but trainer Colin Tizzard said he is in rude health ahead of the festival, so he could be in the mix in the Stayers’ Hurdle.</p>
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