Blazing Khal has strong claims in Stayers Hurdle
Flooring Porter chasing a hat-trick
Teahupoo the Timeform tip
15:30 Cheltenham, Thursday
Live on ITV
Ashdale Bob must snap losing run
1. Ashdale Bob (Jessica Harrington/Keith Donoghue)
Smart hurdler who was a gallant third under top weight in the Coral Cup at last year's Festival and bounced back to his best when three lengths second to Home By The Lee in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. However, he is on a lengthy losing run, and it will take a big career-best for him to end that here.
Blazing Khal has loads of potential
2. Blazing Khal (Charles Byrnes/Philip Byrnes)
Took very well to hurdling last season, winning all three of his starts, notably a couple of Grade 2s at this track, and he picked up where he left off after an absence of 14 months when defying a penalty in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month. Hadn't had an ideal preperation heading into that race, so he could potentially take a big step forward now, and he remains with plenty of potential. Strong claims.
Likely to be found wanting
3. Dashel Drasher (Jeremy Scott/Rex Dingle)
Tough and likeable sort who made a winning reappearance reverted to hurdles at Aintree in November. Lost little in defeat when runner-up in the Relkeel Hurdle and Cleeve Hurdle here last two starts but proved a sitting duck for Gold Tweet in latter event and likely to be found wanting again.
Bold bid expected from Porter
4. Flooring Porter (Gavin Cromwell/Danny Mullins)
All-the-way winner of this race for the last two years. Has had excuses both starts this term, shaping as if needing the run at Navan on return before not making it enough of a test when fourth in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. Has overcome a setback to make it here and he seems sure to launch another bold bid in pursuit of a hat-trick.
Don't underestimate Gold Tweet
5. Gold Tweet (Gabriel Leenders/Johnny Charron)
Useful performer in France but took his form to another level when running out an impressive winner of the Cleeve Hurdle over this C&D in January, clearly well served by the extra distance. Up against some key contenders from Ireland now but remains unexposed at three miles so he isn't one to underestimate.
Henri easily opposed
6. Henri le Farceur (Hugo Merienne/Felix de Giles)
French hurdler who arrives on the back of a career-best win in five-runner Group 2 Prix Leon Olry Roederer at Auteuil in December. However, well held both starts at this sort of trip at the highest level, so easy enough to look elsewhere.
Lee commands respect
7. Home By The Lee (Joseph O'Brien/J. J. Slevin)
Seemed to excel himself when sixth in this last year but has kicked on again this season, winning a Grade 2 at Navan before making the breakthrough at this level in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, finding extra to beat Ashdale Bob by three lengths. Seems sure to give his running again and commands respect.
Dream could be on
8. Klassical Dream (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
High-class hurdler who won a second successive Champion Stayers' Hurdle at Punchestown last season and failed only narrowly in bid for a seventh Grade 1 victory when a neck second to Teahupoo in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse after seven months off. Not seen to best effect when fifth in this last year and another who wasn't sure to make the race. However, it would be folly to ignore his claims in an open renewal.
Paisley Park could come late
9. Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman)
Unbeatable in 2018/19, completing a five-timer in this race. Not quite at that level since but still picked up two Grade 1s and three Grade 2s, including his second Long Walk Hurdle on Boxing Day. Respectable third under a penalty in the Cleeve Hurdle next time and expect him to be doing all of his best work at the finish (third in last two renewals).
Sire in decline?
10. Sire du Berlais (Gordon Elliott/Mark Walsh)
Has an excellent record at this meeting, winning two Pertemps Finals and also second to Flooring Porter in this race two years ago. Ended last season with a Grade 1 win at Aintree but signs of decline this campaign.
Tea a tempter
11. Teahupoo (Gordon Elliott/Davy Russell)
High-class hurdler who posted a career best when winning Grade 1 Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse in December by a neck from Klassical Dream with Honeysuckle back in third. Defied a 9 lb penalty with flying colours in a Grade 2 at Gowran last time, proving his stamina for this trip, and he arrives with compelling claims. He is still only a six-year-old and he is totally unexposed at staying trips. Big player.