The Stayers Hurdle is the premier event for three mile hurdlers in the calendar year and the feature on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival. Legendary names such as Inglis Drever and Big Buck’s headline the honor roll and it was won last year by the brilliant and ill-fated Nichols Canyon, who got up in the dying strides to deny Lil Rockerfeller. This can turn into a real slog, we’ll look at some key trends to try and unearth this year’s winner. Make sure you read our Stayers’ Hurdle tips and preview.
Stayers’ Hurdle Trends
- French horses love the test – 8 of the last 14 winners have been French bred
- Walsh is wonderful – The most successful jockey since 1972 is Ruby Walsh, with 5 wins
- Certain ages prosper – The last ten winners have been between 6 and 9 years old
- Season form is important – 8 of the last 10 winners finished in the first two of all their hurdle starts that season
- Festival experience does no harm – 8 of the last 10 winners had run at the Festival before
Trends – Key Runners
Sam Spinner ❌❌✅✅❌
L’Ami Serge ❌❌✅❌✅
The New One ❌❌❌❌✅
Lil Rockerfeller ❌❌✅❌✅
There’s a lack of French bred horses in the field this year but one who fits the bill is Bacardys and he does well in a majority of our trends as does stablemate Penhill, Willie Mullins has a strong hand as expected in his attempt to win the race two years in a row.
Stayers’ Hurdle Trends Analysis
This looks a good renewal of the Stayers’ Hurdle with plenty coming in with different preparations, the most obvious starting point is Sam Spinner who has done nothing but improve all season and was a good winner of the JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle when last seen. He destroyed a competitive field in a Grade 3 in heavy ground at Haydock and continued his progression when taking his first Grade 1 last time out so looks a really solid contender. He seems to go on any ground so that shouldn’t be an issue and he is a young improving horse who looks to have every chance.
Yanworth hasn’t had a straightforward preparation for this by any means but it would nonetheless be foolish to rule him out. He was an extremely promising young hurdler thought by many to be the banker of the Festival when second to Yorkhill in the 2016 Neptune and was sent off a warm favourite for last year’s Champion Hurdle when disappointing. He bounced back with a good performance in the Liverpool Hurdle at the Aintree Festival and then began his novice chasing campaign. He never jumped with any real conviction over the larger obstacles however and Alan King has decided this race is the right one for him, he has beaten Supasundae before who is very prominent in the market so has plenty of form to suggest he can make his present felt.
The aforementioned Supasundae, who is in the care of last year’s Gold Cup winning trainer Jessica Harrington, has gone from strength to strength this season and emphasised that when downing Faugheen in the Irish Champion Hurdle over two miles last time. He was narrowly beaten by the brilliant Apple’s Jade before that and based off that form should go very well here. His second to Yanworth in a competitive Liverpool Hurdle reads well and though there are a few slight concerns over his ability to properly stay three miles he was strong at the finish in a fast-paced Coral Cup last year and Festival form will likely prove key, he’s a danger to all.
Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge has a habit of finishing second and doesn’t always go through with his effort as seen when travelling all over Sam Spinner in the Long Walk before finding nothing and finishing runner up. He loves a strong pace however and was only narrowly collared by an extremely well handicapped Arctic Fire in the County Hurdle last year. His French Champion Hurdle win shows that he is clearly extremely talented and will have no problem seeing out the trip but the question of his attitude means he’s not one you could comfortably lump on, though it would be no surprise if he was right in the mix.
Other interesting contenders come in the shape of Penhill, The New One, Bacardys and Lil Rockerfeller. The first named is the winner of last year’s Albert Bartlett and though he has not been seen since he is a live contender for this, he powered up the hill to beat Monalee last year and that one has done nothing but frank the form over fences since, if he makes it to the Festival he should be taken very seriously. The New One finally makes the switch to three miles which many have been calling for and with plenty of solid staying on form to his name over shorter trips he looks an interesting proposition now over the staying distance. Lil Rockerfeller was a gallant second in this last year when looking the winner for a long time and can’t be ruled out at a venue he likes.
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