Cheltenham tips: Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle antepost picks from Frank Hickey

Frank runs the rule over day three's biggest race.

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Frank Hickey has cast his eye over the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival – where we’re offering non-runner money back on all races. Last year’s renewal produced a shock 50-1 winner as Lisnagar Oscar stunned the punters at Prestbury Park.

The 2021 race has been billed as a shootout between Paisley Park and Thyme Hill. Speaking on the fourth episode of our special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, Frank discussed the runners expected to be in contention for the feature event on day three.

You can listen to the full show BELOW.

    I’ve got a feeling THYME HILL will run a career best in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Trainer Philip Hobbs wasn’t absolutely flying before Christmas but the yard is coming into form.

    Thyme Hill’s Cheltenham Festival form is also really good. He was third in the 2019 Champion Bumper behind Envoi Allen and was really unlucky in last year’s Albert Bartlett – won by Monkfish – when getting hampered late in the day.

    Thyme Hill

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    I think Thyme Hill will go off as favourite instead of PAISLEY PARK. The seven-year-old’s form from last season looks rock solid and I’d imagine people will latch onto him if Monkfish bolts up in the Festival Novices’ Chase. A bit of better ground on the day would do him no harm at all.

    If I was looking for something at a price, RONALD PUMP and SAMS PROFILE are the two that would appeal most.

    Ronald Pump was only beaten by two lengths in last year’s race despite spending the season chasing with hurdles. He clattered the last and also lost a shoe. In his most recent race, he was only beaten by Champion Hurdle hopeful Honeysuckle by a half length in a fast finishing Hatton’s Grace.

    Sams Profile was a useful novice hurdler for Mouse Morris back in 2019. He finished a respectable fifth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and was second to Reserve Tank in a 2m 4f Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. He came back from being absent all of last season with two runs over fences, falling at Thurles before finishing third behind Monkfish and Onttheropes at Fairyhouse over 2m 5f. Crucially, he was ahead of DIOL KER. Sams Profile got the better of Diol Ker once again when winning the Galmoy Hurdle by half a length at Gowran Park and he shaped like he was value for a little further to me. He’s unexposed and Mouse is in great form this season.

    ROKSANA is also entered in the Mares’ Hurdle on the first day but I think there’s every chance she’ll show up in this. Plenty of people are playing her for both races because they know they will get their cash back if they pick the wrong race thanks to our non-runner money back offer. She has definitely improved over 3m and was only beaten by Paisley Park and Thyme Hill by 2l at Ascot. It’s difficult to see her reversing that, however, but she’s more suited to this and definitely worth her place in the line up. I’m also not sure if she has the pace to beat Benie Des Dieux or Concertista in the Mares’ Hurdle.

    CHAMP is also entered in the Gold Cup but could end up in this if the Denman Chase at Newbury fails to survive the weather or he fails to fire. He has the engine to make an impact and had LISNAGAR OSCAR back in third when he won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle on his last hurdles start two years ago. Champ has Cheltenham pedigree having won last year’s RSA Novices’ Chase and finished second in the 2019 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

    PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE BET SUMMARY – THURSDAY, MARCH 18

    Frank Hickey – Thyme Hill/Ronald Pump (EW)/Sams Profile (EW)

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