Penhill Injury Paves Way for Paisley Park Stayers' Hurdle Success

Tipsters Review - 12-Mar-2019

Penhill Injury Paves Way for Paisley Park Stayers' Hurdle Success

"Cheltenham Racecourse" (CC BY 2.0) by UAV Filming

Backers of the rapidly improving British National Hunt hurdler Paisley Park were buoyed by the news that his main market rival will miss the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival due to injury.

Penhill defied a long racecourse absence to win the Grade One contest over three miles last season, but trainer Willie Mullins ruled him out from defending his staying crown following a setback at home in Ireland.

Bookmakers reacted to the news by cutting Paisley Park - a seven-year-old Oscar gelding - into the favourite for the Stayers'. As one of the feature races on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, run this year on Thursday 14 March, this looks like a golden opportunity for him.

The Stayers' Hurdle has the potential to cut up, with many of the early closing entries having other possible targets. That puts the Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park in the driver's seat to follow up on a number of impressive victories.

Those victories include Grade One success at Ascot in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle. He confirmed the form of that Christmas-time victory when following up in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at the end of January.

After landing that official Stayers' Hurdle trial over the same course and distance at Cheltenham even more impressively, Paisley Park was put up by betting pros on social betting platform betconnect as heading the ante-post list for the Stayers' Hurdle at 3/1, one of many pro tips found on their horse racing cards.

"Faugheen looks an intended runner against Paisley Park" (CC BY 2.0) by danheap77

In the absence of Penhill, the main competition for Paisley Park comes from Faugheen - a horse four years older who heads across the Irish Sea off the back of a fall last time out. While the popular veteran, also trained by Mullins, would raise the roof if he could roll back the years, only one 11-year-old has won the Stayers' Hurdle in modern times.

Faugheen has Grade One-winning form from the Punchestown Festival over the trip and is best known for successes in the Champion Hurdle in his younger days. It is a big ask to go to the well once more against a horse on a serious upward curve with scope for further improvement like Paisley Park.

Other Irish raiders Samcro and Supasundae are far from certain to line-up in the Stayers' Hurdle. The former has flopped in open company over hurdles after winning the 2-mile 5-furlong Ballymore as a novice at the Festival last year and has since been found to be suffering from a lung infection.

Meanwhile, Supasundae has chased home Apple's Jade, who is taking aim at the Champion Hurdle, more than once this season. Trainer Jessica Harrington may be tempted to run the 2017 Coral Cup hero in the Stayers' again after he was a gallant runner-up to Penhill last season.

How deep the race will be at this year's Cheltenham Festival is now open to serious question. Punters who have piled into Paisley Park can feel pretty confident about his chances, provided Lavelle gets him to post at Prestbury Park in one piece.


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