Stayers' Hurdle: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide
Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Thursday's Stayers' Hurdle on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Connections quite bullish about his chances, so this C&D winner is afforded plenty of respect now returned to timber."
Timeform on Kilbricken Storm
1. Bacardys (Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins)
Likely would have finished third (staying on well) in this race last year but for falling at the last. Arrives this time round having had a similar preparation, again failing to fire over fences, but type who could easily out-run his odds granted he's back to his best.
2. Bapaume (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
Won 2½m Group 2 Prix La Barka at Auteuil in June and ran to a similar level when good one and a quarter lengths second to Presenting Percy in John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran last time. That form gives him a solid place chance here, and still only six, so could be more to come.
3. Black Op (Tom George/Noel Fehily)
Second in Ballymore Novices' Hurdle before winning Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree (by half a length from Lostintranslation) in 2017/18. Didn't convince as a chaser earlier this season but not disgraced back in this sphere when 14 lengths third to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle last time. Yet to fully prove himself over this trip, so more emphasis on speed the better.
4. Coquin Mans (Willie Mullins/David Mullins)
Developed into a smart hurdler last season, winning 3 times, including a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse. However, hasn't returned in the same form, finishing well beaten in a Grade 2 contest at Navan last month, and has something to prove.
5. Faugheen (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh)
Top-class hurdler who has won 2m5f Ballymore Novices' Hurdle and 2m Champion Hurdle at this meeting in the past. Yet to be asked for effort when falling heavily two out in Christmas Hurdle won by Apple's Jade at Leopardstown last time. Evidently still retains plenty of enthusiasm for the game and sure to be a player here if none the worse for that fall.
6. Keeper Hill (Warren Greatrex/Richard Johnson)
Has benefited from being switched back to hurdles this season, staying on well to score over 25f at Warwick in January. Well held at Sandown subsequently though, and others preferred at this level.
7. Kilbricken Storm (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden)
Strong stayer who won three times in 2017/18, including Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (by three lengths from Ok Corral) at this meeting. Made winning start over fences this season, but let down by jumping in John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury last time. Connections quite bullish about his chances, so this C&D winner is afforded plenty of respect now returned to timber.
8. Man of Plenty (Sophie Leech/Jonathan Burke)
Finally snapped a long losing run when winning a 2m listed handicap hurdle at Sandown in the mud in December. However, out of his depth in Haydock Grade 2 last time and similar story here.
9. Nautical Nitwit (Philip Kirby/Thomas Dowson)
Produced a career-best effort when running out a game winner of the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in November, and though he had valid excuses when fifth at a handicap over C&D on New Year's Day, he looks to be flying too high here.
10. Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman)
Well held in last year's Albert Bartlett but done nothing but progress this season, winning handicap at Aintree in October, Betfair Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in November and Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (by two lengths from West Approach) in December. Completed four-timer in Cleeve Hurdle over C&D (impressively, by 12 lengths from West Approach, leading before last and staying on strongly) last time. Very much stands out on form and looks the one beat.
11. Petit Mouchoir (Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore)
Formerly high-class hurdler (won Irish Champion Hurdle in 2017/18), but below form when 21 lengths third to Apple's Jade in this year's renewal of that race at Leopardstown last time. Unproven beyond 17f, but well worth a try at this much longer trip given trainer's previous success with Identity Thief.
12. Sam Spinner (Jedd O'Keeffe/Joe Colliver)
Very smart hurdler in 2017/18, winning three times, and sent off favourite for this race before finishing fifth to Penhill. Has lost his way since, though, best effort coming when 24 lengths fourth to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle last time. Hard to see him playing a leading role even if back to best.
13. Supasundae (Jessica Harrington/Robbie Power)
Won Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and Punchestown Champion Hurdle in 2017/18, both over 2m, finishing runner-up in this race in-between. Best effort this season when 16 lengths second to Apple's Jade in latest Irish Champion Hurdle, no match for winner.
14. The Mighty Don (Nick Gifford/Leighton Aspell)
Won 20-runner handicap here in October and acquitted himself well next 2 starts upped in grade. However, wasn't in the same form in the Cleeve last time and faces a difficult task.
15. Top Notch (Nicky Henderson/Daryl Jacob)
Top-class chaser who shaped encouragingly when five and three quarter lengths third to Paisley Park in Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on return. Has since won 2½m listed event back over fences at Kempton (by five lengths from Black Corton), but the fact that connections have decided to take their chance here is particularly interesting, and he is far from out of the reckoning, for all the pick of his form has come over shorter.
16. West Approach (Colin Tizzard/Tom Scudamore)
Didn't click over fences, but proved at least as good as ever when 12 lengths second to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle last time. Temperamental sort, though, and not sure to be in the same form now.
17. Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies)
Won 2½m minor event at Aintree (by two and three quarter lengths from Vision des Flos) in November, but produced rare poor effort here when well beaten in Cleeve Hurdle last time. Type to bounce back, however, and could easily run into a place.
18. Yanworth (Alan King/Barry Geraghty)
High-class hurdler at his best. Finished six and three quarter lengths sixth to Penhill in this race last year, but most disappointing when pulled up in Rendlesham Hurdle won by Shades of Midnight at Haydock on return, possibly amiss. Has a bit to prove.
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Timeform's Stayers' Hurdle Analyst Verdict
PAISLEY PARK has improved in leaps and bounds this season, and following his impressive performance in the Cleeve Hurdle, he's very much the one to beat. Faugheen evidently still retains plenty of enthusiasm for the game and is feared most assuming he’s none the worse for his fall. Supasundae looks best of the rest.
Timeform's Stayers' Hurdle 1-2-3
1. Paisley Park