Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Liverpool Hurdle) Betting Tips & Predictions – Aintree, Saturday 6th April 2019

The chasers may take centre stage on Grand National Saturday, but the hurdlers aren’t left out entirely. Topping the bill over the smaller obstacles is this event for the stayers which sees many of the contenders from the Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle lock horns once again.

This year’s renewal of the Liverpool hurdle is all about Apple’s Jade, according to the bookies at least. But can the mare who flopped at Cheltenham make amends here on Grand National Day? There sure are a few in the field who are well-placed to challenge her.

Top Tips

Sam Spinner to win @ 9/2

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

A real challenge of stamina for hurdlers, this Grade 1 contest is set to be run on soft ground this year and there are 13 runners lined up to take it on.

Going Distance Grade Prize Money Runners EW Terms
Soft 3m½f Grade 1 £250,000 13 Runners 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

Since the race was inaugurated in 1974 it has been the six and seven year olds who have dominated with 12 winners aged six and 12 aged seven. No horse has made a bigger impression on the race, though, than the great Big Buck’s. He won it for trainer Paul Nicholls four years in a row from 2009 to 2012.

Ruby Walsh rode all four of those victories, but he’s still not the leading jockey – that honour is still held by five-time winner Peter Scudamore.

Year Winner SP Trainer Jockey
2018 Identity Thief 14/1 Henry De Bromhead Sean Flanagan
2017 Yanworth 9/4 Alan King Barry Geraghty
2016 Thistlecrack 2/7 Colin Tizzard Tom Scudamore
2015 Whisper 5/1 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2014 Whisper 4/1 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty

Analysis: Forgive Apple’s Sour Cheltenham?

Apple’s Jade looked well set to take the Champion Hurdle by storm at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but as things turned out she only managed a sixth place finish, some 30 lengths back from the winner, Espoir D’Allen. It was a case of history repeating for Apple’s Jade after failing to make her mark in the Mares’ Hurdle the year before at Cheltenham.

Many punters have chosen to forgive and forget, however, based on the mare’s fine form in the run up to Cheltenham and the fact that she tends to stay better than most, especially with the seven pound allowance coming into play. For us though, at odds of 7/4, she’s worth opposing here.

If The Cap Fits Well Priced

Harry Fry’s seven year old, If The Cap Fits, looks a very good price at 6/1 despite not quite making his mark at this level as yet. He won the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November and more or less held his own in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, but there are suggestions that a step up in trip could suit. As such he looks worthy of interest here.

Having said that there is another runner who we think could just pip If The Cap Fits to the win in this one.

Sam To Put Us In A Spin?

Sam Spinner, who is priced as the 9/2 second favourite, was third in this race last year; had it not been for a mistake at the last he might just have kicked on to take the victory. Last time out at Cheltenham he was beaten into second in the Stayers’ Hurdle by the impressive Paisley Park, be he was ahead of Faugheen, amongst others.

With six wins and four second place finishes in his 15 rules races to date, Sam Spinner has served trainer Jedd O’Keeffe well. He did unseat his rider in two races at the beginning of this season but having coped at Cheltenham admirably, those blips can be forgiven.

Each Way Choices Aplenty

There are a number of attractive options when it comes to each way bets for this renewal, with a clutch of capable steads hovering around the 20/1 mark. Unowhatimeanharry and The Worlds End could challenge for the places if things go their way. For us though the value lies with the Nicky Henderson runner William Henry, who is available to back at 12/1.

The nine year may not quite fit the age profile for this race, but he won the Coral Cup at Cheltenham when priced at 28/1 and he was fourth in the same race the year before too. He has shown decent staying power in the past and this trip could give him the chance to outlast a number of his rivals here to claim a place.

Final Verdict: Sam Spinner To Win

For us though, after discounting the favourite Apple’s Jade, our money has to go on the second favourite Sam Spinner. In fine form on the back of his second place at Cheltenham and a proven competitor in this race, the O’Keeffe runner ticks the right boxes for us at 9/2.

About the Liverpool Hurdle: Top Stayers Over the Smaller Obstacles

Entrance to Aintree Racecourse

It’s often said of the Grand National that it’s the only British horse race left that really stops the country in its tracks. It’s certainly watched by millions of people throughout Britain and beyond whilst thousands more buy tickets to Aintree Racecourse to watch the race in person.

Those who do travel to Aintree make the journey for more than just one race though. Several top level contests take place during the three day Grand National Festival including the Liverpool Hurdle, which is one of the key warm up races to the Grand National on Saturday.

Similarities With the Big One

On the face of it the Grand National and Liverpool Hurdle are two very different types of race. Look a little more closely though and there are actually a few parallels between the two.

Liverpool Hurdle & Grand National Comparison

  Liverpool Hurdle Grand National
Obstacle Type Hurdle Fence
Number of Jumps 13 30
Race Distance 3m 149 yds 4m 2f 74yds
Maximum Field 22 40
Runnings 44 171
Average Age of Winner 7.34 8.81

The most obvious similarity is that they’re both races for stayers. The main difference is that the Liverpool Hurdle tests the competing horses and jockeys over hurdles rather than fences. In total, there are 13 hurdles for the horses to navigate during the 3 mile ½ furlong trip. It’s rare for a horse to fall on their way round but not so rare for even leading contenders to see their challenge effectively ended after hitting a hurdle hard.

Another similarity is that it takes a certain amount of experience to win both races. The average age of winner is lower in the Liverpool Hurdle but it’s not a race for very young horses. The last winner at the minimum age of five was Galant Moss in 1999. In the renewals since that race, winners have ranged from six all the way up to 11-year-old Deano’s Beano.

Chart Showing the Average Age of Liverpool Hurdle and Grand National Winners

Variety Key to Liverpool Hurdle’s Success

The Grand National Festival at Aintree is one of the most important National Hunt meetings of the spring. As any racing fan will tell you, there is something about spring racing that some horses love and others simply cannot get to grips with. Punters also sometimes struggle to get to grips with spring racing as horses who have shown little form earlier on in the season suddenly come to the boil.

Spring Grass

To make things that little bit more interesting, even the leading trainers oftentimes have to change the plan for their horses during the course of the season. That’s especially true in the staying hurdle division which, at this time of year, comprises a mixture of specialist hurdlers, those tipped to have a big future over fences and more experienced horses who have made one too many chasing mistakes and have subsequently reverted to the smaller obstacles.

Picking the bones out of the Liverpool Hurdle from a betting perspective is doubtless difficult but it does keep intrigue and entertainment levels high among racing fans.

A Stop Off For the Best

The Liverpool Hurdle is a Grade 1 race. That always brings with it a certain amount of prestige and enough of a prize fund to attract horses of genuine top quality but the Liverpool Hurdle is held in especially high regard.

A number of horses, jockeys and trainers have played their part in the growth of the Liverpool Hurdle but none more so than the combination of Big Buck’s, Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls. Those three combined to win the Liverpool Hurdle a record four times. Those wins are in addition to his four World Hurdle and four Long Distance Hurdle triumphs. Each of those successes came in consecutive years from 2009 to 2012 inclusive and the chance to try and take down the undisputed king of long distance hurdling unquestionably added a great deal to the Liverpool Hurdle during Big Buck’s pomp.

Big Buck's Major Racing Victories

Race Grade Course (Month) Years Won
Liverpool Hurdle Grade 1 Aintree (April) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Stayers' Hurdle Grade 1 Cheltenham (March) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Cleeve Hurdle Grade 2 Cheltenham (January) 2009, 2012
Long Walk Hurdle Grade 1 Ascot (December) 2009, 2010, 2011
Long Distance Hurdle Grade 2 Newbury (November) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

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