Stayers hurdle preview 2021

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Following on from our Champion Hurdle Preview and or Queen Mother Chase Preview, we move on to the Stayers Hurdle and another fantastic race.


Don’t forget if you missed the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Chase previews please click on either race to be taken to the blog post.
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The weather has been dry here in Cheltenham and the ground in my opinion is already good ground after walking the outside of the course today. I live 5 minutes from the racecourse and it is a beautiful racing ground. With a few showers forecast for the middle of this week and then dry from Sunday onwards, I would say the ground will be good to soft for the first day and then by Wednesday, Thursday and Friday it will be decent good ground.
Bring it on, we are going to smash the bookies to bits this year and I am all out for a record.


How do I see this race being run?

The ground is going to be fast and no doubt a race of this nature over 3 miles, is going to be a test of stamina. 

On first look in the race depending on if they run or not, Lil Rockerfeller and Vinndication will likely take them along and with Flooring Porter doing well from the front on his latest two runs, you would expect him to also be prominent.

Although it is obviously going to be a test of stamina, I don’t think it will be a test of stamina like we know it, on soft ground, where horses crawl home. 

I am expecting good ground or very close to it by Thursday and it could play to a horse who has plenty of speed and a gear or two.

The favourite is Paisley Park who does not need any introduction but is a horse who hits a flat spot. He gets away with it in soft ground but I just wonder what will happen on better ground when he hits that flat. The rest will be going that bit faster and I am debating whether he will get away with it on decent ground or whether they will steal too many lengths from him, before his turbo kicks in.

No doubt he will be staying on better than anything but it is something we have to think about and process with great thought. Interesting to say the least…..

Time to get through the field and as always start with the favourite and work our way down. 

I can honestly say I only feel a handful have a chance in this race so those will be the only horses we concentrate on.

All prices are correct at the time of writing: 



Trainer – Emma Lavelle

Form – 2/1220/11111/117-21

As i said above, Paisley Park needs no introduction. He has been here and seen it, a horse of the highest quality when it comes to these staying hurdles. A horse who has won 9 of his 15 races and was the winner of this race back in 2019. He was also a winner at Cheltenham on the same course (new course) of the 2019 and 2020 Cleeve Hurdle.

We know where we stand with Paisley Park, we know he is all class, we know he will likely hit a flat spot, we know he will finish up the hill better than any horse.

The question I have on genuine good ground, is will the ship have sailed during the flat spot? In other words would they have kicked on too much and the gap is a fair size before his turbo kicks in.

I am starting to think this is a genuine cause for concern and although he is the right favourite in the race, I am not sure this ground will be ideal if it turns into a speed test. He is a quick horse when he gets going, but he takes a while to be wound up.

He was sent off 4/6 fav for this race last year and trailed in 7th of 15. He had an irregular heart beat following last year’s race and although he has looked back to best this season, you have to think that the same problem could return at any time, especially at the top level.

He has run twice this season at Newbury back in November when 2nd to Thyme Hill (good ground) and Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle, turning the form around with Thyme Hill, to win by a neck.

Even though I respect Paisley Park and I am certain he will place, I am happy to take him on this time around.



Trainer – Philip Hobbs

Form – 123/1114-12

A horse who I have always held in the highest regard is Thyme Hill. Since the day he finished 3rd to Envoi Allen in the 2019 Champion Bumper, he is a horse I have followed and enjoyed watching progress.

He came into last season’s Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle unbeaten, following two Grade 2 wins and a Grade 1 win in the Challow Novice Hurdle, all over trips shorter than 3 miles.

He is a horse who was only going to improve when stepped up to 3 miles and he was sent to the Albert Bartlett last season, sent off 4/1 fav. He came home 4th to Monkfish that day, beaten just a length and had the most terrible passage. Richard Johnson had to switch a number of times in between the last two hurdles and if that didn’t happen, you could argue he would have won the race.

Looking at the form line and how well Monkfish has done this season, albeit over fences, you have to think that form looks top class.

Thyme Hill has also run twice this season. Beating Paisley Park at Newbury on his first start of the season and then 2nd to Paisley Park at Ascot. Both times he travelled supremely well throughout and although he stays 3 miles, he strikes me as a horse with a touch of class and a few gears. In other words he wouldn’t be out of place over a shorter 2m 5f. 

I also believe he is a better horse on good ground as he has a lovely long stride where he can bounce off a sounder surface.

Thyme Hill is also very lightly raced with only 6 career starts over hurdles. 

We most definitely have not seen the best of him yet and being only a 7 year old, he could go on and dominate this division for years to come.



Trainer – Denise Foster (Gordon Elliott)

Form – 3130/248/8618/4941-13

The winner of the last two Pertemps Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, including off top weight last season. As I always say, those who run well at the Cheltenham Festival, often come back year in year out.

No doubt this horse has been trained with one race in mind all season and although he was beaten last time out, I am not reading into that run, as he will be ready to peak for this race.

Only thing is, although he loves it around Cheltenham, this is not a Pertemps Handicap Hurdle, it is a Grade 1 and he is against the best of the best stayers around.

For me although he is respected, I don’t think he has the class of some of these and will be fighting it out for a place. Having said that, if he is close enough come the last hurdles, he flies up the Cheltenham Hill.



Trainer – Dan Skelton

Form – 4/31112/312/2524-131

A horse who is likely going to run in the Mares Hurdle on Tuesday although it is unconfirmed.  Her 7lb claim is ideal and she is a talented horse but was firmly put in her place when she met Paisley Park and Thyme Hill, at Ascot in December.

She could sneak a place but it has to be the Mares Hurdle where her best chance will come from.

I would be surprised if she was to run in this race. 



Trainer – Denise Foster (Gordon Elliott)

Form – 24/21F211/2137151/5463P2/38U162/P1121122

This will be The Storyteller 4th Cheltenham Festival with his form reading at the festival 1P2. Another horse who comes alive at the Cheltenham Festival and he is coming into this festival, in the form of his life.

We tipped up The Storyteller Ante Post, last month, at 22/1. With his current odds at 12/1 we have a great bet on our hands.

He has been in top class form all season over fences and hurdles. He was the winner of the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal, over fences in October. This was followed up with a 2nd to Flooring Porter in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and then he finished 2nd to Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, over fences, a month ago.

He is just so versatile whether it be hurdles or fences.

He was 2nd in last year’s Pertemps Hurdle to Sire Du Berlais but travelled supremely well throughout. The ground was soft last year and going by his breeding and the fact they like to run him during the summer/spring, I think this ground will be right up his street.

I think given how well he travels and the fact he will get a nice toe into the race, you should see him move from the back of the field after the 3rd last hurdle and try to make his move.

A lively outsider who we are already locked in at a nice price.



Trainer – Gavin Cromwell

Form – 780714162-13211

A horse who has improved nearly 30lb from his run at Gowran Park in October when 2nd to Street Of Doyen.

He followed this up with a win at Navan in a handicap in December before winning the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle over the Christmas period.

I do think he was given the run of the race and given far to much respect out in front. 

I also believe he is a better horse on soft ground and although he is the improving sort, I have my doubts he can improve past the best of the best here.



Trainer – Rebecca Curtis

Form – 1/3221153/239F31/472

Last year’s surprise 50/1 winner of the race. He was the best horse on the day but the race fell apart in my opinion. He just grinded the race out after hitting the front and outstayed those trying to close in. The horses in behind tell me lots underperformed in the race and I don’t think that will happen two years in a row.

He has had two runs this season, disappointing on his first start before running a nice race last month, when 2nd in the Rendlesham Hurdle.

One thing you can be certain of with Lisnagar Oscar is that Rebecca Curtis has trained him to peak for one day only all year and whatever happens, the best Lisnagar Oscar will turn up. 

He could sneak a place but I just don’t think he will be winning the race again on decent ground, where the best horse normally comes out on top.


I was fully in the Thyme Hill camp at the time this blog was wrote and you can see what I wrote below. With that in mind it is hard to see past Paisley Park.

For many it is a two horse race between Paisley Park and THYME HILL and I could not argue with that logic. On their day they are easily the best horses in the race but it is never that straight forward at Cheltenham.

For starters I believe the ground will be much in the favour of THYME HILL over Paisley Park and also I think the flat spot Paisley Park hits, may be taken advantage of on better ground.

THYME HILL is only a 7 year old who still has his best days ahead of him. He still has not hit his peak and could easily have so much more improvement to come. He was an unlucky loser of the Albert Bartlett last season but still ran a great race to come home 4th. He also came home 3rd in the Champion Bumper, as well as a winner at the course in a Novice Hurdle back in 2019. The course very much plays to his strengths.

I really think THYME HILL can go on and dominate the stayers hurdle division for years to come. He has it all in my opinion, all the attributes you look for in a stayers hurdle champion and has not yet reached his full potential.

Of the rest I am sure Sire Du Berlais will run a big race but at the prices I fancy The Storyteller who finished 2nd to SDB in last year’s Pertemps Hurdle. The Storyteller is in the form of his life and we are sat on a nice looking 22/1 for him to place.




*Already Advised Ante Post* – THE STORYTELLER 22/1 – 0.5 PTS E/W

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