CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE NEWS - Paisley Park & Thyme Hill set for decider in Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

Published 2021/01/14

Sponsor Paddy Power has Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle), the 2019 hero, as 3/1 favourite for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, closely followed by Thyme Hill (Philip Hobbs) on 7/2.

The two market leaders have met twice so far this season with the score currently standing at one all.

On 27 November at Newbury, it was Thyme Hill who came out on top by a length and a half in the G2 Long Distance Hurdle but next time out it was Paisley Park who prevailed, scoring by a neck in Ascot’s G1 Long Walk Hurdle on 19 December.

Paisley Park has the upper hand on official BHA ratings, being assessed at 165 compared to 162 for Thyme Hill.

The runner-up to Paisley Park in 2019 was Sam Spinner (Jedd O’Keeffe), who went down by two and three-quarter lengths.

The nine-year-old won all three of his outings in novices’ chases before sustaining a fractured pelvis.

He has not looked at his best in two outings so far this season, but trainer Jedd O’Keeffe believes there were valid reasons for this. North Yorkshire-based O’Keeffe said:

“Sam Spinner is fine at home and the Paddy Power 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.

“The Rendlesham was something we were thinking about, but I think it might just come too soon.

“He is a very talented horse, and he has obviously run well in the race before. Sam Spinner was fifth in 2018 and then a good second to Paisley Park in 2019.

“He obviously would have to reverse form with Paisley Park and now there is also Thyme Hill thrown into the mix.

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

Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis) caused a 50/1 shock in the 2020 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and he is entered once again along with last year’s runner-up Ronald Pump (Matthew Smith) and third Bacardys (Willie Mullins).


Lisnagar Oscar comes home in front in 2020 Ronald Pump and Bacardys are two of the 20 Irish-trained entries.

There have been 12 Irish-trained winners of the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Also prominent in the Irish-trained contingent is Benie Des Dieux (Willie Mullins), winner of the G1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle in 2018 and runner-up in the same contest last year plus Sire du Berlais (Gordon Elliott), successful in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at The Festival™ last season.

Sire du Berlais was last seen when third behind Flooring Porter (Gavin Cromwell) and The Storyteller (Gordon Elliott) in the G1 Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle on 28 December. There is one entry from France in Paul’s Saga (David Cottin).

The seven-year-old mare landed the G1 Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil, the French Champion Hurdle, in October.

Interestingly, Nicky Henderson has given the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as an option for Champ, last season’s G1 Festival Novices’ Chase hero who also holds an entry in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 11-times champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls has the best record of any trainer in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, thanks to four-time winner Big Buck’s.

His two entries in 2021 are recent G2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle scorer McFabulous and Next Destination, runner-up to Roksana (Dan Skelton), the 2019 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle heroine, in a G2 contest at Wetherby in October.

Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle Paddy Power:

3/1 Paisley Park;

7/2 Thyme Hill;

5/1 Champ;

7/1 Benie Des Dieux;

10/1 Sire du Berlais;

12/1 Fury Road, McFabulous;

14/1 Flooring Porter, Roksana;

16/1 If The Cap Fits, Next Destination, Pauls Saga, Ronald Pump;

20/1 Great White Shark, The Storyteller, Thomas Darby, Vinndication;

25/1 Beacon Edge, City Island, Dame De Compagnie, Emitom, Kemboy, Lisnagar Oscar, Summerville Boy;

33/1 Diol Ker, French Dynamite, Honest Vic, Itchy Feet, Kalashnikov, Main Fact, Sixshooter;

40/1 Bachasson, Bapaume, Commander Of Fleet, Lil Rockerfeller, Sam Spinner;

50/1 Bacardys, Call Me Lord, Reserve Tank;

66/1 Décor Irlandais, Imperial Alcazar, Sams Profile, The Mighty Don, Tobefair, Vision Des Flos, Younevercall;

100/1 Ask Dillon, Captain Zebo, Donnas Diamond, Heaven Help Us, Jacamar

Paddy Power himself said:

“The staying hurdling division has arguably the greatest rivalry in Jumps racing at present between former champ Paisley Park and young pretender Thyme Hill. It’s one all so far this season and while there’s a possibility they could lock horns again in the Cleeve Hurdle, Philip Hobbs has indicated the latter will probably go straight for the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle when the argument can be settled once and for all.”

There is a scratchings deadline for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle on 9 February, with the six-day confirmation stage and supplementary entry stage following on 12 March.


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

 Cheltenham_Festival_Logo2021.jpg              closebrothers2020.jpg


Three latest winners among 26 entries for Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle The trio of Benie des Dieux (Willie Mullins), Roksana (Dan Skelton) and Honeysuckle (Henry de Bromhead), winners of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle respectively, all feature among the 26 entries for the 2020 running of the two and a half mile contest.

Honeysuckle, who is also entered in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, has continued her forward march this season, taking her G1 tally to five with victory in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November.

Honeysuckle (right) defeats Benie Des Dieux in 2020 Roksana, who was fourth to Honeysuckle last season, began her season with a G2 success at Wetherby in October and was far from disgraced when third behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill in the G1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December.

Benie des Dieux fell at the last when looking in command in the 2019 renewal before finishing runner-up to Honeysuckle in 2020.

She has yet to start since and is one of six entries for trainer Willie Mullins, who dominates the roll of honour with an amazing nine victories – headed by six-time scorer Quevega.

His entries this year also include Concertista, successful in the G2 Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle at The Festival™ last season plus Cesarewitch Handicap winner Great White Shark.

Other leading contenders include Dame de Compagnie (Nicky Henderson), a three-time winner at the Home of Jump Racing including in the 2020 G3 Coral Cup at The Festival™.

There is a scratchings deadline for the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle on 9 February, with the six-day confirmation stage and supplementary entry stage following on 10 March.

CLOSE BROTHERS MARES' HURDLE (Registered as The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle Race) (Grade 1)

Anythingforlove (GB) 6 11 5 Foxtrot Racing Anythingforlove Jamie Snowden

Benie des Dieux (FR) 10 11 5 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE

Black Tears (GB) 7 11 5 Mrs C Walsh/Mr J Lightfoot Gordon Elliott IRE

Concertista (FR) 7 11 5 Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede W. P. Mullins IRE

Dame de Compagnie (FR) 8 11 5 Mr John P. McManus Nicky Henderson

Dame du Soir (FR) 8 11 5 CWB Plus 1 Partnership David Bridgwater

Daylight Katie (FR) 8 11 5 Coldunell Limited Gordon Elliott IRE

Dolcita (FR) 6 11 5 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Fergal O'Brien

Eglantine du Seuil (FR) 7 11 5 Sullivan Bloodstock Limited Paul Nicholls

Elimay (FR) 7 11 5 Mr John P. McManus W. P. Mullins IRE

Floressa (FR) 6 11 5 Just Four Men Nicky Henderson

Great White Shark (FR) 7 11 5 Mr Malcolm C. Denmark W. P. Mullins IRE

Honeysuckle (GB) 7 11 5 Mr K. Alexander Henry de Bromhead IRE

Indefatiiregable (IRE) 8 11 5 Mr Philip Rocher Paul Webber

Midnights' Gift (GB) 5 11 5 Pitchall Stud Partnership Alan King

Minella Melody (IRE) 7 11 5 Mr K. Alexander Henry de Bromhead IRE

My Sister Sarah (IRE) 7 11 5 Barnane Stud W. P. Mullins IRE

Perfect Myth (GB) 7 11 5 Mr R. J. Vines Neil King

Rayna's World (IRE) 6 11 5 Ace Bloodstock & Rayna Fitzgerald Philip Kirby

Robin de Carlow (GB) 8 11 5 Catchherifucan & Brett Graham Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE

Roksana (IRE) 9 11 5 Mrs Sarah Faulks Dan Skelton Sayce Gold (IRE) 8 11 5 Mr Trevor Hemmings Michael Winters IRE

The Glancing Queen (IRE) 7 11 5 Dingwall, Farrell, Hornsey & Murray Alan King

Verdana Blue (IRE) 9 11 5 Mrs Doreen Tabor Nicky Henderson

Whitehotchillifili (IRE) 7 11 5 Chasing Gold Racing Club Harry Fry

Wynn House (GB) 6 11 5 Mr Rupert Anton Alan King

26 entries

11 Irish-trained The Festival™ presented by Magners 2021

Day One – Tuesday 16th March (Old Course)

13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m ½f

14:10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade1) 2m

14:50 Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f

15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) 2m ½f

16:10 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m 4f

16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) 2m ½f

17:30 National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 6f

Day Two – Wednesday 17th March (Old Course & Cross Country)

13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m 5f

14:10 Festival Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 3m ½f

14:50 Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3) 2m 5f

15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 2m

16:10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase 3m 6f

16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3) 2m

17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1) 2m ½f

Day Three – Thursday 18th March (New Course)

13:30 Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f

14:10 Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Listed) 3m

14:50 Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f

15:30 Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 3m

16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f

16:50 Daylesford Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f

17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145) 3m 2f

Day Four – Friday 19th March (New Course)

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f

14:10 County Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) 2m 1f

14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 3m

15:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2½f

16:10 St. James’s Place Challenge Cup Hunter Steeple Chase 3m 2½f

16:50 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Steeple Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f

17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle Race (0-145) 2m 4½f

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