Cheltenham Tips

Stayers' Hurdle: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide

Paisley Park
Paisley Park is fancied to successfully defend his crown

"Very much the one to beat on form and may yet have even more to offer..."

Timeform on Paisley Park

Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Thursday's Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and pick out their 1-2-3...

1. Ask Dillon (Fergal O'Brien/Paddy Brennan)
Useful performer who won maiden at Ascot and novice at Exeter in 2018/19. Proved at least as good as ever when three and three quarter lengths third to Limited Reserve in Grade 3 handicap at Sandown last time, doing best work at finish after going in snatches. Looks out of his depth now stepping up markedly in grade.

2. Bacardys (Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins)
Looked likely to be placed when falling at last in this race in 2018. Not seen to best effect when well-held sixth behind Paisley Park last season, either, but proved himself still capable of very smart form on first two starts this term, winning Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in November and finishing nine lengths second to Honeysuckle in Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December. Place claims if bouncing back from below-par effort at Leopardstown last time.

3. City Island (Martin Brassil/Mark Walsh)
Developed into smart hurdler last season, finishing first past the post in four of his five starts, including when winning the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (by two lengths from Champ) at this meeting. Reverts to hurdling here after failing to convince in two starts over fences this term. Yet to race beyond 21f but shapes as if he'll stay and could play a hand in the finish if belatedly building on last season's promise.

4. Donna's Diamond (Chris Grant/Thomas Dowson)
Won the Rendlesham at Haydock in 2018 and made a pleasing return behind Emitom in that race after a year off 4 weeks ago. Form is way short of what will be required to land this, though.

5. Emitom (Warren Greatrex/Gavin Sheehan)
Won three of his four starts over hurdles in 2018/19, with only defeat coming when three lengths second to Champ in Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree. Looked rusty when well-held last of six in Relkeel Hurdle here on return but benefited from step back up in trip when winning Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock (by eight lengths from Donna's Diamond) last time, drawing clear on the run-in. This much tougher but he remains open to more improvement.

6. L'Ami Serge (Daryl Jacob/Nicky Henderson)
Irresolute sort who won Aintree Hurdle in 2017/18 but missed last season due to injury. Failed to reach that level in two starts this term, with best effort coming when two and three quarter lengths second to The Worlds End in Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December. Typically found little when well-held in Cleeve Hurdle over C&D last time and looks up against it here.

7. Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis/Adam Wedge)
Won novice at Chepstow and Prestige Novices' Hurdle at Haydock in 2018/19. Possibly flattered when four and a half lengths third to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle over C&D last time, always well placed in a tactical affair. Even that form leaves him with plenty to find here.

8. Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman)
Top-class hurdler who won all five starts in 2018/19, including this race (by two and a quarter lengths from Sam Spinner). Made successful reappearance in Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November and extended winning sequence to seven in Cleeve Hurdle over C&D last time, comfortably beating Summerville Boy by one and a quarter lengths after idling on the run-in. Very much the one to beat on form and may yet have even more to offer, still only an eight-year-old after all.

9. Penhill (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
Goes well over this C&D having won Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle in 2017 and this race in 2018. Missed all last season due to injury and has been below his best in four starts this term, including when four lengths second to Cracking Smart in Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time. Capable of very smart form on his day but plenty to prove at present.

10. Ronald Pump (Matthew J. Smith/Bryan Cooper)
Smart handicap hurdler who won four times in 2018/19 and has mixed hurdling and chasing to good effect this season. Produced career best in this sphere when length second to Treacysenniscorthy in Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown in December, staying on strongly at the finish under top weight. Could outrun big odds now stepping up significantly in grade.

11. Summerville Boy (Tom George/Jonathan Burke)
Won Supreme Novices' Hurdle at this meeting in 2018 and has proved better than ever on his last two starts at this venue. Won Relkeel Hurdle on New Year's Day and ran at least as well in defeat when one and a quarter lengths second to Paisley Park in Cleeve Hurdle last time, appearing to relish step up to 3m. No obvious reason why he should reverse the form with Paisley Park but could hit the frame again.

12. The Jam Man (Ronan M. P. McNally/Sean Flanagan)
Big improver since his stamina has been drawn out, winning 4 times last year, and running mighty races in defeat in 3m handicap hurdles the last twice. Playing for minor honours at best here, though.

13. Tobefair (Debra Hamer/Tom Bellamy)
Ran a screamer in the Pertemps last season before winning 3m handicaps here on his next 2 starts. No match for Paisley Park and co in the Cleeve last time though and vulnerable once more.

14. West Approach (Colin Tizzard/Harry Cobden)
Versatile sort who twice finished placed behind Paisley Park in 2018/19. Ended losing run in Grade 3 handicap chase here in November but has offered fewer signs of encouragement since, again looking a difficult ride when 11 lengths fourth behind Emitom in Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last time.

15. Apple's Jade (Gordon Elliott/Richard Johnson)
High-class hurdler at her best but has struggled for form this season. Looked much more like her old self in first-time cheekpieces when winning Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle at Leopardstown (by 17 lengths from Unowhatimeanharry) in December, though failed to build on that when pulled up in Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran last time, stopping quickly before three out. Needs to bounce back here and looks opposable given her poor track record.

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