Cheltenham Festival Previews – Stayers’ Hurdle 1-2-3

The Stayers’ Hurdle remains the pinnacle on day three, and looks as competitive as any of the championship races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Here’s our 1-2-3.


It would not be fitting for CHAMP’s career to end without a Festival feature win given the promise he has shown. And of course the name.

However, but for that sensational RSA Chase victory as a novice chaser, Cheltenham Festivals have passed by without success. He was second in the 2019 Ballymore and pulled up without ever starting to travel in the Gold Cup.

This season opened, as many in the past have done, with great promise. He travelled very stylishly through the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle before fending off Thyme Hill. That moved him to the head of the market for this race ante post.

However, the wheels came off at Cheltenham last time when astonishingly overturned by Paisley Park in the Cleeve Hurdle. Now, yet again, there is a lot to prove.

Flooring Porter

Last year’s winner, who was on such a roll coming to Cheltenham, has now found himself winless since.

FLOORING PORTER was a ready winner from the front 12 months ago, with Danny Mullins judging an excellent pace. If anything, despite three defeats, he is the market leader whose reputation has suffered the least damage this term.

He does have a tendency for antics, not least when wanting to run off both the Punchestown and Navan tracks in April and November respectively. However, after losing ten lengths to Klassical Dream in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, he managed to claw back the deficit to two lengths.

With this track having suited wonderfully last season, he can be trusted to give his running and should be much closer to the pace without trouble. 

Home By The Lee

HOME BY THE LEE had not run over hurdles since a slow end to his novice season in 2019/20.

However, the switch back to smaller obstacles has provided Home By The Lee with his best two runs since a big handicap chase success last February. At Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, he was second to Darver Star and had some decent horses in behind.

The Galmoy Hurdle, and a step back up in trip, came next and that represented the best performance of his career. He was runner-up to Royal Kahala, beating Klassical Dream in the process.

While that is promising in terms of having found his best trip and challenge, he would still need a comfortable career best to win here.

Klassical Dream

One question needs to be asked regarding KLASSICAL DREAM: will seven weeks have been long enough to freshen him up for the Stayers’ Hurdle.

He had endured 487 days off the track when returning in Punchestown’s equivalent last season. He was notably well supported and that proved well-founded, as he won impressively.

He then had eight more months on the sidelines until he returned for this season. Once again, the break between runs worked well for him, when he benefited from a bizarre start to take the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

However, running him again in January proved a disaster. His penalties proved too much in the Galmoy Hurdle and his profile now strongly suggests he needs time between starts. Has he had long enough? He is certainly talented enough if he has.


A former Willie Mullins inmate, KOSHARI is now with David Christie. He made some start for his new yard too.

Despite somewhat losing his way for Mullins over the summer, the change of scenery worked wonders and at 80/1 in an Aintree handicap, Koshari won off a mark of 149. That takes some doing.

He may have benefited from race fitness and conditions probably ended up more attritional than the good to soft officially given on the day. He would need this to turn into a slog, but it is also a significant step up in class. He looks vulnerable.

Lisnagar Oscar

Many suspect LISNAGAR OSCAR may be trending in the right direction for this race once again.

He was, of course, the 50/1 winner of this race two years ago, causing an almighty upset. He has not managed a victory since, but was better last time, finishing third in the Cleeve Hurdle to Paisley Park.

There is a chance that soft ground will play to his strengths, but realistically, it would be just as great a shock as his first win in the race should he come through to succeed again.

Paisley Park

2019’s Stayers’ Hurdle hero rolled back the years in January for one of the most remarkable successes of the season.

PAISLEY PARK, in his advancing years, has grown grouchy at the start of his races. He nearly decided to stand still at Newbury, but then gave up 15 lengths at the start of the Cleeve Hurdle, with Ruby Walsh commenting on ITV that he would simply have pulled the horse up.

However, having eventually been persuaded to start by Aidan Coleman, Paisley Park did the unthinkable. Gradually cajoled into contention, he positively flew up the hill, denying Champ and raising the roof at Cheltenham.

If he reproduces that form from the off, he has an obvious chance of winning his second title. That said, there must be great doubts that he will behave himself.

Song For Someone

Though a two-time Graded winner over 2m3½f or shorter, SONG FOR SOMEONE has often shaped like a horse who would want further.

He is particularly adept on soft ground, which may explain his aberration at Aintree last season. Similarly, he never even threatened to travel at Sandown over the shortest trip most recently  .

His best effort came over an intermediate trip, but if really settling over further he does have ability. He may be slightly overlooked in the market based on his last run, but it looks for all the world like two miles no longer suits him.

Thyme Hill

An ambitious tilt in France did not work to open THYME HILL’s season, but his record in British races is excellent.

Over obstacles, he has only been out of the top two once, and that came when horribly unlucky in the 2020 Albert Bartlett behind Monkfish. Twice impeded on the run-in, he was still only beaten a length-and-a-half.

He took last season’s Aintree Stayers’ Hurdle when absent from the Cheltenham meeting, having had two cracking contests with Paisley Park prior to that. On the balance of their form since, Thyme Hill looks to have advanced past Emma Lavelle’s charge.

Though held by Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle, that horse’s disappointment since suggests Thyme Hill may be much the more reliable and he should be thereabouts.

Royal Kahala

The one mare in the lineup has been declared for this race over the Mares’ Hurdle run on Tuesday.

They may not have foreseen quite as much rain falling on readily watered ground, but she won the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle last time out on heavy going and shapes as though this is her ideal test.

She had previously won in mares’ only company at Leopardstown, but she was impressive in stepping out of that last time and she is right in the mix on her latest effort.

Klassical Dream probably didn’t run his true race that day and there is a niggling doubt about her effort at last season’s Festival. She was only ninth in the mares’ novices’ that day.


Last year’s hero FLOORING PORTER is the safest option. He revelled in conditions last season and there are more doubts about the capability of his nearest rivals. Thyme Hill is the most solid opposition against him, while Klassical Dream is more easily forgiven his previous effort than Champ.