Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle Betting Tips & Predictions – Cheltenham, Thursday 14th March 2019

If there are no late drop outs for this year’s Stayers’ Hurdle, it’ll be the best attended renewal of the contest since 2006. A total of 18 horses have been declared for the highlight race on day three of a wet and blustery Cheltenham Festival.

Paisley Park’s winning streak has sent him straight to the top of the betting but we’ve seen so many favourites fall short of expectation at the Festival so far. Emma Lavell’s nine-year-old could well be the next with last year’s runner-up Supasundae instead able to steal the spotlight.

Top Tips

Supasundae to win @ 7/1

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

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Race Info

Another fascinating Stayers’ Hurdle awaits as the horses head to the New Course, currently running soft (and probably windy), for the day three feature race. Mares and fillies get a 7lb allowance here as they bid for their share of the impressive £325,000 prize pool.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Soft 3m Grade 1 £325,000 18 1/4 1-3

Recent Winners

The bookies have had a hard time calling this race since Big Buck’s dominance came to an end. Only one of the last six renewal of the three mile contest has been won by the race favourite.

No jockey has tasted more Stayers’ Hurdle success than Ruby Walsh, who has on five occasions ridden his horse to glory. This year the veteran jockey rides Faugheen, the fourth time he’s been paired up with the gelding during the Festival.

2018 Penhill 12/1 Willie Mullins Paul Townend
2017 Nichols Canyon 10/1 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2016 Thistlecrack Evs Colin Tizzard Tom Scudamore
2015 Cole Harden 14/1 Warren Greatrex Gavin Sheehan
2014 More Of That 15/2 Jonjo O’Neill Barry Geraghty

Analysis: Hurdles proving tough to tackle

The first day of the Cheltenham Festival we saw both the well-fancied Buveur D’Air and Benie Des Dieux take a tumble over the hurdles. Neither had fallen before so it just goes to show that not even the strongest favourite is immune from a mistake.

Tired legs always find it harder to jump and there will be plenty of them towards the end of this three mile challenge, especially with the going as it is and the wind a factor too. There were two fallers in last year’s renewal and with conditions equally as testing this time around, there could well be more who are unable to clear the obstacles.

Not a walk in the Paisley Park

He may comfortably lead the betting but this race will be far tougher than any other for Paisley Park (13/8). It’s an event with a history of surprises and this year’s bumper field combined with blustery conditions only make an upset all the more likely. The seven-year-old shone during his Cleeve Hurdle win at Cheltenham but he still remains inexperienced for a race like this. 11 of the last 12 Stayers’ Hurdle winners had at least nine previous efforts over hurdles, something the bay gelding has not yet managed.

Supasundae to make it a super Thursday

There’s something admirable in the consistency Supasundae has long displayed. Jessica Harrington’s horse has finished in the top two during her last eight starts, usually only beaten by a superior name, three-times that name being Apple’s Jade. The nine-year-old will not be facing the formidable mare here though and this could pave the way for Stayers’ Hurdle success. He ran a fine race in last year’s renewal, finishing just two lengths shy of Penhill. While, he’s not been tested over three miles since, his record suggests that a sudden bump up in distance will be no issue for the reliable third favourite.

Sam Spinning into decline

Just 12 months ago Sam Spinner was the 9/4 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle but he’ll set off this year at 40/1. Given his still youthful age, his decline has been hard to explain. He began the season by unseated the jockey in back to back races before managing a credible fourth in the Cleeve Hurdle. While at least showing some ability that day, it would be wrong to think a revival is likely.

Faugheen (4/1) is another who looks past his best after two underwhelming showings this campaign. It’s been 33 years since an 11-year-old last won this race so it would appear that the window of opportunity has passed for Willie Mullins’ horse.

Final Verdict: Supasundae to win

Although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Paisley Park first past the line in this race, his price makes him far too much of a risk given the competition he faces. Supasundae looks like being his biggest threat and last year’s runner-up may way well go all the way this Thursday. He’s not lost any of the ability he showed 12 months ago and could run even better here as he tries out a tongue tie for the first time.

About the Stayers’ Hurdle: Day Three’s Headline Act

Cheltenham Racecourse Entrance

Each day at the Cheltenham Festival has its championship level contest towards which the whole season builds for those runners in the relevant category. Speed is the name of the game on Day One and Day Two respectively, but in the second half of the meeting the focus turns towards stamina, beginning with the Day Three showpiece of the Stayers’ Hurdle. A Grade 1 contest for runners aged four and older, the crème de la crème of the staying division tackle three miles and 12 obstacles in pursuit of glory.

First run way back in 1912, the race is now firmly into its second century of existence, making it one of the more historic events of the meeting. The shape and name of the race has however gone through a number of changes over the years, with the first recognised edition of the modern era taking place more recently in 1972. Having been replaced by an event known as the Spa Hurdle from 1946, 1972 was the year the race returned to the Festival schedule under its current moniker; a title which it has retained ever since, other than between 2005 and 2016 when it was known as the World Hurdle.

With that inaugural edition in 1912 actually being a selling contest – the winner was up for grabs for a bargain £50 at the time – the class of the contest has certainly increased, to the extent that it is now the pre-eminent Grade 1 staying hurdle of the entire British season.

Trials, Trials and More Trials

Those punters looking to plot an ante-post course towards finding the winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle are certainly well catered for when it comes to trials for the big one. Almost from the advent of the National Hunt season, the British and Irish Fixture list provides a steady stream of Graded staying hurdle contests which provide logical stepping stones towards the main event in March.

Other Major UK & Irish Staying Hurdles

February Rendlesham Hurdle Haydock 2
January Galmoy Hurdle Gowran Park 2
January Cleeve Hurdle Cheltenham 2
December Christmas Hurdle Leoparstown 1
December Long Walk Hurdle Ascot 1
November Long Distance Hurdle Newbury 2
October West Yorkshire Hurdle Wetherby 2

Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle in late November/early December gives us our first real pointers towards the season’s pecking order in the staying division and has been taken in by the likes of Baracouda, Inglis Drever, Big Buck’s and Thistlecrack on route to Stayers’ Hurdle success.

Next up comes Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle in December which again has thrown up its share of winners, including Baracouda, Big Buck’s and Thistlecrack again, in addition to 2006 Stayers king, My Way de Solzen.

Those who place extra emphasis upon form at the track won’t want to miss January’s Cleeve Hurdle which takes place at Cheltenham. This race has grown in prominence over time and has been used as a final stepping stone towards the big one by Inglis Drever, Big Buck’s and Thistlecrack.

Those looking to assess the merits of the Irish challengers meanwhile would do well to tune into the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. As of 2018 the race has yet to throw up the winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle, but those to have competed in the race do regularly fare the best of the Irish runners who turn up at Cheltenham. Having been won by the likes of Limestone Lad, Vroum Vroum Mag and Apple’s Jade, it may only be a matter of time until the winner of Ireland’s big festive hurdle follows up at Prestbury Park.

Buck’s Best of Multiple Winners

Chart Showing Multiple Winners of Cheltenham's Stayers' Hurdle

This race has been no stranger to a horse returning to the scene of his former glory to land the prize on more than one occasion. This multiple winner trend started very early too, with Silver Bay winning the two first editions. Crimson Embers, Galmoy, Sobrino, and Warwick are others to have doubled up in the earlier editions of the race, but the two greatest performers in the history of the contest were to come in more recent times.

Howard Johnson’s Inglis Drever burst onto the scene in 2005 when upsetting hot favourite – and another dual winner of the race – Baracouda to score impressively by three lengths. Inglis Drever missed the 2006 edition but returned in 2007 to record a hard-fought success from Mighty Man. A place in the record books therefore beckoned headed into the 2008 edition. The now nine year old duly delivered to see off French challenger Kasbah Bliss and become the first ever three time winner of the race. His record however wouldn’t last long….

The Paul Nicholl’s trained Big Buck’s had announced himself as the potential new kid on the block on the staying hurdle scene when coming home well clear in the 2009 Cleeve Hurdle and backed that trial performance up with a win from Punchestown’s in the big one. Noble challengers such as Grand Crus and Voler La Vedette came and went in the following seasons, but none could lay a glove on Big Buck’s who dominated the staying scene to an unprecedented degree, racking up a second, third and fourth win in this race in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Undoubtedly one of the greatest staying hurdlers of all time.

Big Buck’s didn’t just propel himself into the record books, the horse also took his trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh with him. Those four wins for Nicholls make him the most successful handler in the history of the race, whilst Walsh, who added a fifth victory aboard Nichols Canyon in 2017, leads the way amongst the riders.

Younger Runners To The Fore

Common wisdom dictates that the staying power of a horse tends to improve with age. Whilst that is true to an extent in this race – no runner younger than six has come home in front since 1951 – the overall pattern suggests that we certainly don’t want a runner too old when looking for the winner here. The below chart gives the age breakdown of all winners between 1972 and 2018 and suggests that focussing on runners between the ages of six and eight is the way to go.

Chart Showing the Ages of Cheltenham Stayers' Hurdle Winners

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