Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to the Stayers' Hurdle on Day 3 of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival on Thursday and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Still the one to beat in this division..."
Timeform on Paisley Park
15:05 Cheltenam, Thursday
Live on ITV
1. Bacardys (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)
Smart hurdler who won the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in 2019/20. Went as if amiss in a first-time tongue strap after going as if amiss previous run, and never a threat when 23 lengths fifth to Sams Profile in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran last time. Not an obvious choice.
2. Beacon Edge (Noel Meade/Sean Flanagan)
Has been In good form this year, winning twice in October, including a Grade 3 contest at Galway. Was successful again last time when getting up late on to beat Fury Road by a neck in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Was also close third to Honeysuckle in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier in the season and shapes as though he'll stay 3m.
3. Flooring Porter (Gavin Cromwell/Jonathan Moore)
Much improved hurdler who won handicaps at Gowran last summer and at Navan in December, doing well to win a competitive affair by 12 lengths on the latter occasion. Produced better still when beating The Storyteller by six lengths in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last time. Made all for his last two wins which will be harder to do here, but is clearly thriving.
4. Fury Road (Denise Foster/Jack Kennedy)
Three-time winner as a novice last season and finished a close third in the Albert Bartlett at this meeting. Made a successful reappearance in a Grade 2 at Punchestown before finishing fourth in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, but was only edged out late on when beaten a neck by Beacon Edge in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time. Bit more needed here.
5. If The Cap Fits (Harry Fry/Daryl Jacob)
Very smart hurdler who beat Roksana a head in the 2019 Liverpool Hurdle and won the Coral Hurdle at Ascot for the second time later that year. Hasn't convinced over fences this season despite showing smart form and winning on his chasing debut at Ffos Las.
6. Lil Rockerfeller (Neil King/Bryony Frost)
Last hurdling win came well over three years ago and, while he's posted a couple of good efforts in second this term, he's expected to come up short in a first-time visor.
7. Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis/Harry Skelton)
Improved to cause a 50/1 shock in this last year, beating Ronald Pump by two lengths. Back to that sort of form after a break/breathing operation when three quarters of a length second to Third Wind in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last time, conceding weight to the winner. This looks a stronger renewal but is entitled to be thereabouts again.
8. Main Fact (David Pipe/Fergus Gillard)
Made it nine wins on the spin when scoring on return to hurdles off a mark of 147 over C&D in November, but has come up short in better company since, and a similar story likely to unfold here.
9. Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle/Aidan Coleman)
Ended unbeaten campaign in 2018/19 with a dominant success in this race but was found to be suffering an irregular heartbeat after disappointing in last year's renewal. Finished an encouraging length and a half second to Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his return in November and turned the tables on that rival on better terms in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last time, finishing strongly to win by a neck. Still the one to beat in this division.
10. Reserve Tank (Colin Tizzard/Robbie Power)
Grade 1 winning novice hurdler who ran to a similar level over fences last season. Probably needed the run when only fifth in the National Spirit at Fontwell on return, but faces a much stiffer task now tackling 3m for the first time over hurdles.
11. Sam Spinner (Jedd O'Keeffe/Henry Brooke)
High-class hurdler who made it three from three over fences last term, but has been most disappointing on both outings this this time around, including in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury 111 days ago. Hard to fancy.
12. Sire du Berlais (Denise Foster/Mark Walsh)
Winner of last two Pertemps Finals on this card, beating stablemate The Storyteller by half a length off top weight last year. Also won the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on his reappearance in November but failed to enhance his Stayers' Hurdle claims when just a respectable third to Flooring Porter and The Storyteller in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown the following month. It would be no surprise were he to run another big race on his return to the Festival.
13. The Storyteller (Denise Foster/Keith Donoghue)
Was in receipt of 3 lb from stablemate Sire du Berlais when beaten half a length in the Pertemps Final on this card last year. Raced mainly over fences this season and has been in excellent form, winning four times, notably the Champion Chase at Down Royal, while his second in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last time was a career-best effort. Not as good over hurdles but ran creditably when a staying-on six lengths second to Flooring Porter in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and holds each-way claims.
14. Vinndication (Kim Bailey/David Bass)
High-class chaser but has been held back by his jumping, falling when bang there in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last time. Also failed to impress with his jumping when runner-up in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance. Won all three starts over hurdles as a novice in 2017/18, showing smart form.
15. Younevercall (Kim Bailey/Ciaran Gethings)
Smart hurdler who was fourth to Paisley Park in the Long Walk at Ascot, but was pulled up in the Relkeel at Kempton subsequently. Up against it.
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Timeform's analyst verdict
PAISLEY PARK has looked as good, if not better than ever this term, doing well to get up close home to land the Long Walk at Ascot on his latest outing, so he's an obvious choice to regain his crown. Sire du Berlais tends to save his best for the Festival, so a bold showing is expected from him, while 2020 winner Lisnagar Oscar shouldn't be ruled out.
1. Paisley Park
2. Sire du Berlais
3. Lisnagar Oscar