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Ruby Walsh has run the rule over the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – where we’re offering non-runner money back on all races. Lisnagar Oscar shocked the crowd at Prestbury Park last year by taking a surprise victory at odds of 50-1.
The 2021 renewal has been hyped as the third scrap of the season between Paisley Park and Thyme Hill. Speaking on the latest episode of our special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, Ruby revealed who he thinks will be in contention to win the feature race on day three.
You can listen to the full show BELOW.
There has to be clashes and big names in every sport and the Stayers’ Hurdle division is lucky it has PAISLEY PARK and THYME HILL. All is set fair for them to go at each other for a third time this season at Cheltenham. It will be a really good race and it’s easy enough to see why people would be split.
Paisley Park’s struggle in last year’s race was probably a one-off but I think Thyme Hill is the most likely winner. I’ve been a fan of his and I fancied him in the Albert Bartlett last year so I think he’ll get his revenge.
I couldn’t stop anyone backing CHAMP at non-runner money back. He’s also entered in the Gold Cup but I can’t think of a horse that has won that having not had a run in the season so it’s all eyes on whether the Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday survives the weather. In sharp contrast, you only have to go back three years to Penhill where a horse has won the Stayers’ Hurdle making his seasonal debut.
At non-runner money back I’d also have something each-way on KEMBOY just in case he turns up here. He was given the entry for fear his jumping wouldn’t hold up in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup but after winning that he’d look a great back-up to Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup.
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RONALD PUMP ran a cracker last year and he ran well in the Hatton’s Grace in December but we haven’t seen him since. SIRE DU BERLAIS was a little disappointing at Leopardstown at Christmas but the time experts will tell you his performance in last year’s Pertemps Network Final was rock solid. He beat The Storyteller, whose impressive results since puts a better slant on his form.
I can’t see BENIE DES DIEUX running here so I wouldn’t be factoring her in. ROKSANA was placed at Ascot behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill but I don’t see how she turns the form on them. FLOORING PORTER is not a straightforward horse to ride as he jumps to his left. Leopardstown suited him with a running rail all the way round the inside but on both tracks over hurdles at Cheltenham there’s no running rail on the inside. I’m not certain he’ll be the easiest ride.
Looking at some of Willie Mullins’ other entries, GREAT WHITE SHARK was too disappointing at Gowran Park and would have to improve too much while BACHASSON was sixth in the Coral Cup, fell in the Gold Cup and unseated his rider in the Albert Bartlett in his three runs at Cheltenham.
PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE BET SUMMARY – THURSDAY, MARCH 18
Ruby Walsh – Thyme Hill/Champ/Kemboy (EW)
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