Paisley Park won the race in 2019 and went into last year’s renewal unbeaten in two seasons and the red-hot favourite, but ran well below his best and was subsequently found to have a heart issue.
Emma Lavelle brought the nine-year-old back to form to finish second to Thyme Hill at Newbury in November, before reversing that result in the Long Walk at Ascot just before Christmas.
Racing fans were looking forward to that pair renewing their rivalry but Thyme Hill was later ruled out of the Festival with a minor muscle injury.
Dan Skelton’s Roksana finished third in the Long Walk but she looks destined for the Mares’ Hurdle, rather than a rematch with the boys.
The Irish challenge looks set to be header by Sire Du Berlais, who won the Lismullen Hurdle over 2m4f at Navan in November. He was beaten at Leopardstown at Christmas by Flooring Porter – an intriguing contender for Gavin Cromwell – but has produced his best form at Cheltenham, winning the Pertemps at each of the past two Festivals.
Sandwiched between the pair in that Leopardstown race was The Storyteller, who produced a cracking run over fences to be second in the Irish Gold Cup in February and could go close if replicating that form over the smaller obstacles.
Elsewhere, Fury Road is another horse coming out of last season’s Albert Bartlett, while Lisnagar Oscar ran an encouraging trial at Haydock to get a disappointing campaign back on track.
When is the Stayers’ Hurdle?
The Stayers’ Hurdle will be run at 3:05pm on Thursday, March 17, 2021, the second day of this year’s Festival.
(Odds provided by Betfair NRNB market and are subject to change, correct as of 26/02/21)
- Paisley Park 3/1
- Roksana 7/1
- Sire Du Berlais 8/1
- The Storyteller 12/1
- McFabulous 12/1
- Flooring Porter 14/1
- Fury Road 16/1
- Lisnagar Oscar 16/1
- Next Destination 16/1
- If The Cap Fits 16/1
- Sams Profile 16/1
- 20/1 bar
How to watch the Stayers’ Hurdle
TV channel: The Stayers’ Hurdle will be shown live on ITV1 and Racing TV.
Live stream: TV licence payers can stream the race for free via the ITV Hub website and app. Subscribers can also stream the action via the Racing TV website.
Terms: Min £20 in Exch bets on Saturday races, excludes ante-post. Max £10 free bet per qualifying day, awarded 15/03. Betfair Rewards ‘Basic’ customers excluded. T&Cs apply