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Paisley Park and Thyme Hill poised for decider in Stayers' Hurdle
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Paisley Park and Thyme Hill poised for decider in Stayers' Hurdle
on 14 January 2021
Sire Du Berlais looks the leading Irish-trained challenger for the Cheltenham feature

Paisley Park and Thyme Hill are set to do battle once more in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park emerged as the dominant force in the division when claiming the Grade 1 prize in 2019, but was found to be suffering from a fibrillating heart when failing to fire in last season’s renewal.

The nine-year-old has bounced back to something like his best this term – filling the runner-up spot behind the Philip Hobbs-trained Thyme Hill in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, before reversing that form in an epic climax to the Long Walk at Ascot.

The pair remain on course for a mouthwatering third clash at the Festival on March 18th, for which there are 51 entries.

Gordon Elliott has a strong hand, with his four-strong team headed by dual Festival winner Sire Du Berlais.

The J.P. McManus-owned gelding has won the Pertemps Final in each of the past two seasons and made a successful start to the current campaign in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in November.

Sire Du Berlais had to settle for minor honours on his latest appearance at Leopardstown over the Christmas period behind Gavin Cromwell’s surprise winner Flooring Porter, who is also in Stayers’ Hurdle contention.

Elliott also has The Storyteller, Commander Of Fleet and Fury Road in the mix, while Willie Mullins has entered six horses for a race he has won twice in recent years with Nichols Canyon (2017) and Penhill (2018).

The Closutton maestro’s sextet includes last year’s third Bacardys, top-class mare Benie Des Dieux and triple Grade 1-winning chaser Kemboy, who has not run over hurdles in nearly four years.

Nicky Henderson has entered Gold Cup contender Champ, while shock 2019 winner Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis), runner-up Ronald Pump (Matthew Smith), McFabulous (Paul Nicholls) and Sam Spinner (Jedd O’Keeffe) – who chased home Paisley Park two years ago – also feature.

The latter has not looked at his best in two outings so far this season, but O’Keeffe believes there were valid excuses.

He said: “Sam Spinner is fine at home and the Stayers’ Hurdle is a definite target for him.

“He has had a little bit of time off after his run at Newbury as an old foot injury has flared up again. Due to that injury, the plan is to stay over hurdles this season and so the Stayers’ Hurdle will be his main spring target.

“I think we are going to struggle to get a run into him before the race, so he will be going to Cheltenham fresh.

“He has solid form at Cheltenham, so hopefully he can get there in one piece.”

There is one entry from France in Paul’s Saga (David Cottin). The seven-year-old mare landed the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle) in October.

PADDY POWER STAYERS' HURDLE (Grade 1)

Ask Dillon (IRE) 8 11 10 4 The Fun Partnership Fergal O'Brien

Bacardys (FR) 10 11 10 Shanakiel Racing Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE

Bachasson (FR) 10 11 10 E. O'Connell W. P. Mullins IRE

Bapaume (FR) 8 11 10 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE

Beacon Edge (IRE) 7 11 10 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

Call Me Lord (FR) 8 11 10 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson

Captain Zebo (IRE) 9 11 10 Mrs S. F. Dixon John Dixon

Champ (IRE) 9 11 10 Mr John P. McManus Nicky Henderson

City Island (IRE) 8 11 10 Sean & Bernardine Mulryan Martin Brassil IRE

Commander of Fleet (IRE) 7 11 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

Decor Irlandais (FR) 8 11 10 Mr John Devine Noel C. Kelly IRE

Diol Ker (FR) 7 11 10 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

Donna's Diamond (IRE) 12 11 10 D&D Armstrong Ltd Chris Grant

Emitom (IRE) 7 11 10 The Spero Partnership Ltd Warren Greatrex

Flooring Porter (IRE) 6 11 10 Flooring Porter Syndicate Gavin Cromwell IRE

French Dynamite (FR) 6 11 10 Robcour M. F. Morris IRE

Fury Road (IRE) 7 11 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE

Honest Vic (IRE) 8 11 10 Carole Daly & Partners Henry Daly

If The Cap Fits (IRE) 9 11 10 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Harry Fry

Imperial Alcazar (IRE) 7 11 10 Imperial Racing Partnership 2016 Fergal O'Brien

Itchy Feet (FR) 7 11 10 Kate & Andrew Brooks Olly Murphy

Jacamar (GER) 6 11 10 Pegasus Bloodstock Limited Milton Harris

Kalashnikov (IRE) 8 11 10 Mr Paul Murphy Amy Murphy

Kemboy (FR) 9 11 10 Kemboy/Brett Graham/Ken Sharp Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE

Lil Rockerfeller (USA) 10 11 10 Davies Smith Govier & Brown Neil King

Lisnagar Oscar (IRE) 8 11 10 Racing for Fun Rebecca Curtis

Main Fact (USA) 8 11 10 Munrowd's Partnership David Pipe

McFabulous (IRE) 7 11 10 Giraffa Racing Paul Nicholls

Next Destination (IRE) 9 11 10 Mr Malcolm C. Denmark Paul Nicholls

Paisley Park (IRE) 9 11 10 Mr Andrew Gemmell Emma Lavelle

Reserve Tank (IRE) 7 11 10 The Reserve Tankers Colin Tizzard

Ronald Pump (GB) 8 11 10 Laois Limerick Syndicate Matthew J. Smith IRE

Sam Spinner (GB) 9 11 10 Caron & Paul Chapman Jedd O'Keeffe

Sams Profile (GB) 7 11 10 Michael O'Flynn/John F O'Flynn M. F. Morris IRE

Sire du Berlais (FR) 9 11 10 Mr John P. McManus Gordon Elliott IRE

Sixshooter (IRE) 6 11 10 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE

Summerville Boy (IRE) 9 11 10 Mr R. S. Brookhouse Tom George

The Mighty Don (IRE) 9 11 10 Golden Rose Partnership Nick Gifford

The Storyteller (IRE) 10 11 10 Mrs Pat Sloan Gordon Elliott IRE

Thomas Darby (IRE) 8 11 10 Mrs Diana L. Whateley Olly Murphy

Thyme Hill (GB) 7 11 10 The Englands and Heywoods Philip Hobbs

Tobefair (GB) 11 11 10 Down The Quay Club Debra Hamer

Vinndication (IRE) 8 11 10 Moremoneythan Kim Bailey

Vision des Flos (FR) 8 11 10 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Colin Tizzard

Younevercall (IRE) 10 11 10 Youneverknow Partnership Kim Bailey

Benie des Dieux (FR) 10 11 3 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE

Dame de Compagnie (FR) 8 11 3 Mr John P. McManus Nicky Henderson

Great White Shark (FR) 7 11 3 Mr Malcolm C. Denmark W. P. Mullins IRE

Heaven Help Us (IRE) 7 11 3 Mr J. Turner P. Hennessy IRE

Paul's Saga (FR) 7 11 3 Gerald Laroche D. Cottin FR

Roksana (IRE) 9 11 3 Mrs Sarah Faulks Dan Skelton

51 entries

20 Irish-trained

1 French-trained

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