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Cheltenham Festival 2021 Ante-post: Stayers' Hurdle

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Posted in: Cheltenham Festival Tips

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Timeform's John Ingles takes a long-range look at the 2021 Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and gives you his best ante-post bet, a 20/1 chance who saves his best for Cheltenham in March.

The staying hurdle division has looked a much less fluid one than the two-mile division in recent seasons thanks to the dominance of Paisley Park, though all that came crashing down when he was beaten at odds on in his bid to win a second successive Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. A fibrillating heart was the cause of Paisley Park’s shock defeat as he trailed home seventh behind 50/1 winner Lisnagar Oscar, who had finished third behind him on better terms in the Cleeve Hurdle in January. If his physical problems are behind him and prove a one-off, Paisley Park could yet bounce back in a weak division which had seen him win seven races in a row.


However, the 2021 Stayers’ Hurdle is looking a good deal more open now. The mares Honeysuckle and Benie des Dieux are prominent in most lists, though the one-two from the latest Mares’ Hurdle clearly have other Festival options, including that race again. Lisnagar Oscar doesn’t appeal as a repeat winner, while Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Ronald Pump, who has mainly been chasing of late, would need another career-best to go one better. The Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish and Thyme Hill, who didn’t get much luck in the closing stages when fourth in the same race, feature in the Stayers’ Hurdle betting, but they both appeal most as smashing chasing prospects, and a return to hurdling only looks a fall-back option for them.


Much more interesting at odds of 20/1 is Sire du Berlais who has saved his best for the Festival in each of the last two seasons by twice winning the Pertemps Final. His latest victory, under top weight from a BHA mark of 152, puts him on the verge of high-class form and not far behind the best stayers as things stand. Gordon Elliott has shown with this horse, and others, that there are few better trainers when it comes to having horses spot-on for the Festival.


Recommendation:


Back Sire du Berlais at 20/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle


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