Champion Stayers Hurdle tips and runner-by-runner guide to Thursday’s 5.25 at Punchestown

Last year's winner Klassical Dream faces seven slick rivals.

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After bouncing back to form in thrilling style at Aintree, Sire Du Berlais attempts to wrestle the Champion Stayers Hurdle crown from Klassical Dream in Thursday’s 5.25pm at Punchestown.

Having flopped when favourite for the Pertemps Network Final, Gordon Elliott’s charge then got the better of Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle hero Flooring Porter by 1¾l in the Liverpool Hurdle three weeks later.

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Paisley Park, a creditable third in the Cheltenham showpiece, heads over from the other side of the Irish Sea for this, while Ashdale Bob, Concertista, Gentlemansgame and last year’s Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier – who reverts back to hurdling after disappointing over fences – complete the field.

You’ll find a guide to the Champion Stayers Hurdle runners and tips from our horse racing experts below.

Champion Stayers Hurdle runners

Ashdale Bob

Trainer: Mrs J. Harrington Jockey: Robbie Power Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Smart hurdler. Good third of 23 in handicap hurdle (14/1) at Cheltenham (21f, soft) 43 days ago. Likely to give another good account back up in grade.

***

Gentlemansgame

Trainer: M. F. Morris Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 6 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Bounced back to form in a first-time tongue strap/cheekpieces combination when winning 5-runner minor event hurdle at Thurles (23f, good to soft, 11/8) 40 days ago, kept up to work. This is much tougher.

***

Klassical Dream

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: P. Townend Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs

High-class hurdler who landed this corresponding event 12 months ago. Added to his tally with victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown 8 months on and got back on track when fifth to Flooring Porter in the Stayers’ Hurdle last time. Has to be taken seriously.

*****

Paisley Park

Trainer: Emma Lavelle Jockey: Aidan Coleman Age: 10 Weight: 11st 10lbs

High-class hurdler who landed the Cleeve Hurdle for a third time at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Finished with running left when third to Flooring Porter in the Stayers’ Hurdle there last time and expected to give another good account.

***

Sire Du Berlais

Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: M. P. Walsh Age: 10 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Made the breakthrough at the top level when landing 8-runner Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree (24.7f, good to soft, 16/1) 19 days ago by 1¾ lengths from Flooring Porter, kept up to work. Solid claims if turning up in similar form.

****

Thedevilscoachman

Trainer: Noel Meade Jockey: Sean Flanagan Age: 6 Weight: 11st 10lbs

NON-RUNNER

Vanillier

Trainer: Gavin Patrick Cromwell Jockey: Keith Donoghue Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lbs

Impressive winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last season but hasn’t quite hit the same heights over fences this term. Back over hurdles.

***

Concertista

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: Daryl Jacob Age: 8 Weight: 11st 3lbs

Smart hurdler who was let down by her jumping on just her third start over fences in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Liberthine) at Cheltenham (20.6f, good to soft) 41 days ago. Switches from chase to hurdles and is unexposed at this trip.

****

Champion Stayers Hurdle tips

Mick Fitzgerald: Willie Mullins’ charge won this race last year off a long layoff and there’s no such worries this time, but he has had a couple of very hard races at Gowran Park and Cheltenham after winning at the Dublin Racing Festival. KLASSICAL DREAM is two from two at Punchestown though and gets the nod over Sire Du Berlais who won very well at Aintree earlier this month.

Timeform: KLASSICAL DREAM has had a light campaign so there ought to be still some mileage in the tank and he can win this race for a second year running. Sire du Berlais is sure to make his presence felt if turning up in similar form to Aintree, while Concertista makes some appeal back over hurdles given she’s unexposed at this trip.

Ruby Walsh: KLASSICAL DREAM seems in great form but didn’t get home strongly from the last hurdle at Cheltenham. The keys to this race is pace. Klassical Dream won this race last year and may prove too fast for this field again.

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