Cheltenham Festival: Paisley Park slashed for Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

The dual former winner rolled back the years with an unbelievable performance in Saturday's Cleeve Hurdle.

Paisley Park beats Champ at Cheltenham

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TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – NATIONAL HUNT CHASE

Stattler’s jumping wasn’t always perfect, but he showed resoluteness in abundance when getting the better of a sustained duel with Farouk D’alene in a Grade 3 novice chase at Naas on Sunday to prevail by a length and a quarter.

That victory was over three miles and one furlong and with champion trainer Willie Mullins declaring that going further with a bit less pace will suit the winner, he was elevated to pole position in this market.

He was a pretty decent hurdler, but it was in this sphere that he was always going to make his mark and he’s still unbeaten over the bigger obstacles.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – CLOSE BROTHERS MARES’ HURDLE

Trainer Peter Fahey landed the first Grade 1 race of his career last year with Belfast Banter and he could now have another top-class horse in the form of Royal Kahala who upset the odds in last Thursday’s John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.

The winner halved in odds for this contest, but connections now have a nice conundrum as they also recently shrewdly entered the mare in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle with the Kildare handler reasoning they’d better have the option in case she won the Galmoy.

She won’t run on good ground at Cheltenham, while the somewhat testing and tacky surface at Gowran was blamed for long odds-on favourite Klassical Dream’s defeat – he doubled in price for the Stayers’ Hurdle for which Paddy Power is now non runner money back should you think that was an over-reaction.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE

Former Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle hero Paisley Park had the media reaching for superlatives after producing an astonishing performance after losing many lengths at the start to lead at the final obstacle in Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham and go on to deny Champ by three and a quarter lengths.

An emotional winning trainer Emma Lavelle proudly declared “that was the real Paisley Park” and any punters sitting on double figure-priced dockets can now feel very pleased with themselves as he more than halved in price to regain his crown next month in another race that Paddy has gone non runner money back.

Like last weekend’s Clarence House Chase, the Cleeve will be a race people remember for a long time and Paddy Power pundit Ruby Walsh, whose opinions are considered as solid as they come, even admitted that he would have given up after the winner’s antics at flag fall.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – PADDY POWER PLATE

Torn And Frayed earned himself a quote for this after disposing of what looked a quality field in the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase by six lengths at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The eight-year-old wasn’t winning out of turn either as even though he was disappointing on his previous outing at Haydock in December, the heavy ground probably didn’t assist him there, but his previous effort when finding just My Drogo too powerful at Prestbury Park was eye catching, with that winner now rated a lofty 155.

FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

Some pundits crabbed Chantry House’s victory in Saturday’s Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, but connections won’t care as their charge returned to winning ways after disappointing in the King George at Kempton and is now on course for the Blue Riband next month in the final Championship race of the Festival where Paddy is now non runner money back.

To be fair to the winner, he looked beaten at one stage, but showed bravery to stay on well up the famous Cheltenham hill to eventually score by two and a half lengths. He was having a good blow afterwards as well so is entitled to come on dramatically for the run.

FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – TRIUMPH HURDLE

Pied Piper usurped stable companion Fil Dor at the front of this market after an impressive nine length romp in the Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, when winning trainer Gordon Elliott raised the intriguing possibility that one or the other could go for the Supreme Novices Hurdle to separate them. All options remain open.

He was considered good enough by former handler John Gosden to run in a Group 2 at Royal Ascot and Elliott indicated that he was a bit speedier than Fil Dor although it now reportedly looks likely that both horses, each owned by Caldwell Construction Ltd, will line up in the Triumph Hurdle that opens Friday’s card at the Festival.

We’re just weeks away from The Festival and you can listen to our expert panel preview every race in our special Cheltenham Countdown podcast BELOW.

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