*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change
One of Jump racing’s biggest rivalries will come to a head in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power are offering non-runner money back on every single contest.
Day three of the blockbuster 2021 meeting will see battle lines drawn between former champion Paisley Park and emerging threat Thyme Hill as the pair look to settle a rivalry that has rumbled on throughout the season.
The pair first met in last November’s Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, where Thyme Hill got the better of Paisley Park by a length and a half. However, the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner exacted revenge in a thrilling Long Walk at Ascot three weeks later.
The third highly-anticipated instalment of their match-up is now set to take place in the feature race on a jam-packed St Patrick’s Day schedule, with 12 hurdles over a daunting distance of 3 miles on the New Course lying in wait.
Can Paisley Park recapture the magic?
Paisley Park emerged as the leading talent in the Stayers’ Hurdle division when claiming the Grade 1 prize at Cheltenham in 2019, capping a startling unbeaten 2018/19 season over flights.
The Emma Lavelle-trained superstar continued his winning streak with a one length victory over Thistlecrack on his seasonal reappearance in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and backed that up by beating Summerville Boy in the Cleeve Hurdle two months later.
Paisley Park (OR 165)
Hurdle Runs – 14, Wins – 9, Placings – 1220/11111/117-21
- DON’T MISS OUR BRAND NEW SNAZZY RACECARDS FOR EVERY SINGLE RACE TODAY
- … THEN CHECK OUT ALL THE WINNERS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE WITH OUR FAST RESULTS
However, a fibrillating heart dashed hopes of back-to-back Stayers’ Hurdle triumphs and Paisley Park could only finish a distant seventh at Cheltenham last season as 50/1 outsider Lisnagar Oscar claimed a surprise win.
The nine-year-old returned at Newbury in November and came close to claiming his second Long Distance Hurdle before turning the tables on Thyme Hill with a miraculous late rally at Ascot.
Those performances suggest Paisley Park is back to his best and he is currently favourite for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, but reclaiming his crown will not be easy.
Thyme Hill the challenger
If Paisley Park is the established former champion, Thyme Hill is the young pretender with just one full season of hurdling under his belt before the current campaign.
However, Philip Hobbs’ seven-year-old has never lacked for talent and showed he has a swift turn of foot with a strong third-place finish in the 2019 Champion Bumper behind the extraordinary Envoi Allen.
Thyme Hill (OR 162)
Hurdle Runs – 6, Wins – 4, Placings – 1114-12
A trio of novice hurdle wins followed for the exciting prospect before he was hampered badly in the 2020 Albert Bartlett but still managed to finish fourth behind Monkfish, Latest Exhibition and Fury Road.
Relatively unexposed heading into this season, Thyme Hill certainly made his mark with his length-and-a-half win over Paisley Park at Newbury when in receipt of 3lbs.
The pair were level on weights when they re-opposed at Ascot, with Thyme Hill just touched off in the closing yards, and that result sets up a mouthwatering clash at Cheltenham – even before taking into consideration the possible presence of dual Festival winner Sire Du Berlais, Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle champion Flooring Porter and progressive mare Roksana among others.
Our experts’ views
Ruby Walsh: “Paisley Park’s struggle in last year’s race was probably a one-off but I think THYME HILL is the most likely winner”
Frank Hickey: “I’ve got a feeling THYME HILL will run a career best in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle”
WHEN IS THE PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE?
The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle takes place on Thursday March 18, on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival 2021. It’s scheduled to start at 15.05.
PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE WINNERS AT THE LAST FIVE FESTIVALS
2020 – Lisnagar Oscar (Horse), Adam Wedge (Jockey), Rebecca Curtis (Trainer)
2019 – Paisley Park, Aidan Coleman, Emma Lavelle
2018 – Penhill, Paul Townend, Willie Mullins
2017 – Nichols Canyon, Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins
2016 – Thistlecrack, Tom Scudamore, Colin Tizzard
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S OTHER BIG RACES
March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips
March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips
March 17 – 16.50 – Champion Bumper latest odds and tips
March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips
March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips
March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips
March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY THREE SCHEDULE
13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 3f 168y
13.55 – Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 7f 213y
14.30 – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f 127y
15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y
15.40 – Paddy Power Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 4f 166y
16.15 – Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 179y
16.50 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup 3m 2f
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
Read More on Cheltenham 2021
- Cheltenham Festival dates, race times and antepost tips from our experts
- Cheltenham Festival fans allowed to attend Prestbury Park?
- Cheltenham Festival: Ruby Walsh reveals what makes a top-class Champion Hurdle horse
- Cheltenham tips: Honeysuckle leads Irish charge in Champion Hurdle
- Cheltenham tips: 6 favourites worth following
- Cheltenham tips: Mick Fitzgerald’s 5 to thrive at 2021 Festival