Danny Archer puts each potential contender in the 2023 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle under the microscope plus reveals his fancy for Thursday's showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2023 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle looks set to be one of the races of the meeting at this year's Cheltenham Festival. It's a fascinating puzzle for punters to solve, with Flooring Porter bidding to record a third consecutive victory in the three-mile hurdling championship.
However, there are a number of unexposed contenders lurking amongst the runners. Full guide below:
1. ASHDALE BOB
Official rating: 152. Festival form: 3. Odds: 16-1.
Finished a fine third in last year's Coral Cup and he has lost nothing in defeat this season, including when second in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out. He has been kept fresh for this race since and is versatile ground-wise.
2. BLAZING KHAL
Official rating: 157. Festival form:_ -- __Odds: 11-4.
A leading player. He looked to hold strong claims in last year’s Albert Bartlett prior to being ruled out and he overcame a 428-day absence to record a brilliant win in the Boyne Hurdle in Februay. Winners of that event have a poor record in this contest and there are concerns about his fitness given he sustained a cut when successful at Navan. However, he is trained by a master in Charles Byrnes and is this seven-year-old is firmly on the upgrade.
3. DASHEL DRASHER
Official rating: 153. Festival form:_ -- __Odds: 25-1.
Lots of solid form behind leading contenders for this event at Cheltenham this season, with runner-up efforts behind Marie’s Rock and Gold Tweet. Jeremy Scott’s charge could definitely sneak a place given he will be ridden prominently. However, he looks likely to find a few too good.
4. FLOORING PORTER
Official rating: 162. Festival form: 11. Odds: 11-2.
Will bid to record a third straight victory in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Connections believe he has finally come good in his home work, but he has not enjoyed a good preparation. Fourth on both starts this season behind Home By The Lee, latterly in the Christmas Hurdle, there is every possibility that he just comes good when he arrives at Prestbury Park. However, those concerns in his build-up for the hat-trick remain an issue.
5. GOLD TWEET
Official rating: 156 Festival form: -- Odds: 7-1.
Bids to emulate the great Baracouda by giving France a third victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle this century. Deeply impressive at Cheltenham in the Cleeve Hurdle, ground conditions are reportedly not a concern even if conditions are quick, and he has to be given plenty of respect in this event. It will be interesting to see how he gets on in a big field here where they are likely to go more of a pace, but he travelled into contention with real purpose last time out and must be respected here.
6. HENRI LE FARCEUR
Official rating: 136 Festival form: -- Odds: 33-1.
His connections have taken the plunge and supplemented him, encouraged by the exploits of his compatriot, Gold Tweet, in the Relkeel. However, he looks a notch below that horse and his stamina is also not guaranteed.
7. HOME BY THE LEE
Official rating: 157 Festival form: 6 __Odds: 11-2.
Has been trained with this race in mind this season and has looked a reformed character with brilliant wins at Navan and Leopardstown. He looked the finished article when winning the Christmas Hurdle and he has to be taken very seriously given he is versatile regards the ground plus arguably remains open to more improvement over this trip.
8. KLASSICAL DREAM
Official rating: 162 Festival form:_ 15 __Odds: 9-1.
2019 Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero who travelled into this race like the winner last year. However, the petrol gauge emptied from the back of the last, despite being given a patient ride by Paul Townend, and it patently looks like he just does not stay the stiff three miles at Cheltenham. He is a much better horse when fresh so he is respected, but stamina concerns look a legitimate worry here.
9. PAISLEY PARK
Official rating: 160 Festival form:_ 0173 __Odds: 16-1.
Won this contest back in 2019 and has enjoyed a fine season, which included Long Walk Hurdle glory at Ascot. He lacked the required pace when third to Gold Tweet in the Cleeve Hurdle when last seen and at the age of 11, he is not getting any younger. However, if they were to go a good clip in this event, it could play into his hands given he is likely to be off the bridle early, and he might not be a forlorn hope in terms of running into a place.
10. SIRE DU BERLAIS
Official rating: 147 Festival form:_ 41120 __Odds: 66-1.
Age may have caught up with the dual Cheltenham Festival hero this year. He shaped OK when fourth in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time out, but it's hard to envisage a career-best to land this at the age of 11.
Official rating: 163 Festival form: 9 Odds: 7/2.
Has looked mote of the finished article this season and defeated Klassical Dream and Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle before easily landing the Galmoy Hurdle. Soft ground does look crucial to his chances as all of his best form has been with some cut in the ground, but if conditions were to deteriorate at Cheltenham over the next week, he commands all sorts of respect as a six-year-old firmly on the upgrade.
Official rating: 157 Festival form: 4D. Odds: 33/1
Pulled up on his only start over three miles and looks Champion Hurdle bound.
Official rating: 153 Festival form:_ 1 __Odds: 7-2.
A bold decision by connections who look keen to roll the dice with the defending Mares’ Hurdle heroine. She was brilliant at Cheltenham on her comeback in the Relkeel Hurdle and she did power all the way to the line.
However, you would have to be slightly concerned, given her free-going nature, about her staying three miles. She has buckets of class, though, and is another who goes on all ground, but stamina has to be a big worry.
DANNY'S 1-2-3-4 PREDICTION:
1. BLAZING KHAL. 2. TEAHUPOO. 3. FLOORING PORTER. 4. HOME BY THE LEE.
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