The blue riband race for long distance hurdlers at the Cheltenham Festival is Thursday’s Stayer’s Hurdle. Our racing analyst Dave Stevos has studied the race and has used different key stats to narrow the field. He has already produced similar previews for the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. Check out the stats that matter in our 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle preview below…
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: Age Is Crucial
Horses in a certain age bracket usually flourish in the Stayers’ Hurdle. It is bad news for fans of older horses, as they have tended to struggle in this race. In the 17 renewals since 2000 only 3 9yos have won. No horse older than 9yo has won since 1986. Younger horses haven’t got a great record either, with no 5yos winning in the modern era. For this reason, we are concentrating on horses aged between 6yo and 8yo.
So, who doesn’t make the cut due to this stat? Well, Farclas (40/1) is the only 5yo remaining in the field so he is discounted. 10yos Pallasator (33/1), Nautical Nitwit (100/1), Man Of Plenty (100/1) are all ruled out too. There is no doubt about who the biggest casualties are at this early stage though, 11yo Faugheen (5/1) and 9yo Supasundae (8/1). West Approach (25/1) is another 9yo that doesn’t make it.
Cut: Farclas; Pallasator; Nautical Nitwit; Man Of Plenty; Faugheen; Supasundae; West Approach; Yanworth; Prince Of Scars; Mia’s Storm; Aux Petit Soins;
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: Course Form Key
The importance of previous course form should never be underestimated. The stats don’t pull any punches in this regard when it comes to the Stayers’ Hurdle. In the last twelve renewals of the race, every one of the winners had at least one run at Cheltenham. Eight of the last twelve Stayers’ Hurdle winners had won at Cheltenham in the past.
Roksana (25/1), Coquin Mans (33/1), Cracking Smart (20/1) and Diamond Cauchois (50/1) have no Cheltenham form so all are discounted. This still leaves us with quite a few possible contenders in the shakeup. Next up we use another stat to narrow the field even further for the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle.
Cut: Roksana; Coquin Mans; Cracking Smart; Diamond Cauchois.
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: Proven Quality Counts
Another interesting stat to note for the Stayers’ Hurdle is the importance of proven quality. Since 2006 9 of the 12 Stayers’ Hurdle winners had previously won at Grade 1 level. In fact, 11 of the last 12 winners had scored in a Grade 2. This allows us to cut quite a few more and a couple of quietly fancied horses fall by the wayside.
The Willie Mullins trained Bachasson (25/1) is cut here, as are Momella (50/1), The Mighty Don (50/1), Robin Waters (80/1) and Thomas Campbell (80/1). We are still left with a large number of possible winners, but the final stat will hopefully sort the wheat from the chaff.
Cut: Robin Waters; Thomas Campbell; Bachasson; Momella; The Mighty Don.
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: Not A Race For Big Shocks
Although we love nothing more than picking out a big priced winner, shocks are rare in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Okay, it may not have been a happy hunting ground for favourite backers recently (4 of last 12 won). However, in general terms the race has been won by horses at least in the first half of the market. Anzum scored at 40/1 in 1999, but since then 14/1 has been the biggest priced winner (Cole Harden 2015).
The stats suggest it makes sense to stick with horses priced up at 20/1 or lower for the Stayers’ Hurdle. This is bad news for rank outsiders Vive Le Roi, Bleu Berry, Old Guard, Agrapart, Lil Rockerfella, and Sam Spinner. Keeper Hill, Dortmund Park, Petit Mouchoir and Limini are other notable horses that are discounted.
Cut: Vive Le Roi; Bleu Berry; Old Guard; Agrapart; Lil Rockerfella; Sam Spinner; Keeper Hill; Dortmund Park; Petit Mouchoir; Bristol De Mai; Wholestone; Midnight Shadow.
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: The Verdict
So, after the stats have had their say we are left with six main contenders for the Stayers’ Hurdle. One of those is the second favourite Samcro, but he is 50/50 to run so for the purposes of this article he is counted out. If he does run, this trip will be a lot more suitable than 2 miles and he could run well if turning up.
The other horses that remain in the running are Bacardys, Bapaume, Kilbricken Storm, Black Op and Paisley Park. Bacardys fell in this last year when he looked like staying on for a place. However, his form has fallen off a cliff this season and he is hard to have much faith in.
Bapaume has finished behind Apple’s Jade twice and Presenting Percy once this season. His run behind Presenting Percy last time at Gowran (24f sft) was a cracker. Bapaume was beaten less than 2L and a repeat of that could see him make the shake up here. Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner Kilbricken Storm is another interesting contender. However, if the ground was good it would be a big worry for his supporters.
That leaves us with Black Op and hot favourite Paisley Park. Black Op is a good horse, but he proved no match for Emma Lavelle’s 7yo here in January. Paisley Park has looked a different animal this season, and he is most definitely a worthy favourite. He has to be viewed as one of the bankers of the week and he can get the job done for favourite backers. Bapaume and Black Op can fill the places. If the ground is soft, Kilbricken Storm could sneak into the frame.
2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview: The Stats That Matter Prediction
- Paisley Park (13/8)
- Bapaume (20/1)
- Black Op (14/1)