Cheltenham 2018 : Stayers Hurdle Ante-Post Preview
The Stayers Hurdle is now traditionally the showcase race on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival, but the history of this 3-mile hurdle race stretches back to 1912 when Aftermath became the inaugural winner. In recent times, it has been a race that has become synonymous with multiple winners like Big Bucks, Inglis Drever and Baracouda.
Winners have been aged 6 (three), 7 (two), 8 (two) and 9 (three)
Ruby Walsh has ridden 5 of the last 9 winners
Paul Nicholls has trained 4 of the last 9 winners
England have won 8 and Ireland 2 of the last 10 renewals
Big Bucks is the shortest-priced winner at 5/6
Nicholls Canyon is the longest-pried winner at 10/1
2018 Stayers Hurdle Contenders
Had looked too slow for 2-miles at the highest-level last season before stepping-up to 3-miles for the first-time when winning the 2017 Stayers Hurdle. Beaten a head by Unowhatimeanharry in the Punchestown equivalent, when Ruby Walsh was perhaps a little over-confident on him. Likely to improve for his seasonal debut behind Apple’s Jade where, though he was slightly disappointing, he still had Cheltenham and Punchestown Festival winners behind.
No horse older than 9 has won the Stayers Hurdle since 1986, but he looked as good as ever when winning at Aintree om his seasonal reappearance. However, he was beaten by Beer Goggles last time, though he was conceding that improving rival 6lb there, and the enterprisingly-ridden winner seemed to catch Barry Geraghty by surprise.
High-class filly who will still only be a 6-year-old at the time of the race. However, whilst she would look to have a much better chance than her odds of 10/1 suggest, trainer Gordon Elliott has maintained she will be trying to defend her Mares Hurdle Crown.
Sent-off at 16/1 for last year’s Albert Bartlett, but outstayed his rivals there. Form not worked out with any great excitement though, with the second, third and fourth all beaten on their next starts.
Reportedly being aimed at the race after winning over 3-miles in France, but never looked a stayer in most of his races in England.
Second in the race last year and, though disappointing at Wetherby for a third time on his reappearance, he beat L’ami Serge at Ascot last time. Would be a popular winner, but could hit the frame again.
Relished the step-up to 3-miles here at Cheltenham on his last two starts, winning off marks of 138 and 148, and could easily progress into a genuine challenger.
Trainer Alan King wasn’t very pleased when asked if Yanworth would revert to hurdles after not looking the most natural of chasers, but there’s no doubt he would have a good chance in this if he turned up.
Had gone close off top-weight in a couple of decent handicaps, and proved that form was no fluke when winning the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. He was receiving 6lb there, but this bold front-runner could continue to prosper, and could be a genuine challenger come March.
The likes of Thomas Campbell and Beer Goggles could be real dangers come March if they continue their progress, whilst last year’s Champion Hurdle favourite Yanworth will be much shorter in the betting if turning up. However, though beaten by 9-lengths on his seasonal appearance, the bare form of Nicholls Canyon’s defeat of Supasundae in third suggests he’s still the one to beat come March. Willie Mullins is also the master at preparing them for the big day, and this looks sure to be his target. Unowhatimeanharry could again be a danger, but will be older than ideal at 10 come March.
2018 Stayers Hurdle Tip: Nicholls Canyon @ 7/1 Bet365 or Coral