2019 Stayers’ Hurdle Preview

The Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park is a worthy favourite for the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Will Reilly takes a stats-based look at Cheltenham’s Stayers’ Hurdle

Here are some stats for Thursday’s feature race at Cheltenham, the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle (March 14th, 3:30pm)

In the last 26 runnings of the race, there have been seven winning outright favourites plus two joint-favourites.

Ten other favourites, plus one joint-favourite, have made the frame, so the favourite tends to run well in the contest.

In our sample, there have been five Irish-trained winners, including three of the last six – Solwhit (2013), Nichols Canyon (2017) and Penhill (last year), the last two trained by Willie Mullins.

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Age:

  • Horses aged six or seven have dominated the race:
  • Six-year-olds, eight wins
  • Seven-year-olds, nine wins
  • Eight-year-olds, six wins
  • Nine-year-olds three wins
  • The age stat would count against the 11-year-old Faugheen; in fact, Crimson Embers (1986) is the only 11yo to have won the race since the late 1920s

 

The stats suggest that Faugheen’s age may count against him winning the Stayers’ Hurdle

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Horses to have won the race more than once in our sample are Baracouda (2000 and 2002), Inglis Dever (2005, 2007, 2008) and Big Buck’s (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012).

  • On 16 of the 26 races in our sample, a horse priced in double-figures has made the frame, but no horse priced greater than 17/2 had been successful since Anzum scored at 40/1 in 1999 – that was until 2015. Cole Harden won that year priced at 14/1, followed by Nichols Canyon (10/1, 2017) and Penhill (12/1, last year)
  • Nine of the 26 winners had not won over three miles prior to their Stayers’ Hurdle success, which includes Inglis Drever the first time he won it and Nichols Canyon in 2017
  • This race is often won by a horse that is not a huge price, has displayed class, although not necessarily at three miles.
  • This century, the winning distance of the race has been more than 1.5 lengths on seven occasions (from 18 races) It has been more than 2 lengths on five occasions

 

Unfortunately, Willie Mullins, Paul Townend and Penhill will not be back to defend their crown in the Stayers’ Hurdle owing to injury

Verdict:

If you back the favourite, there is a good chance that you will get a good run for your money. This year’s favourite is Paisley Park (aged seven and has won over three miles)

A horse at a big price will probably get placed, although the winner is likely to be returned in single figures. On the stats, age counts against Faugheen, which leaves a short list of Paisley Park, Supasundae and Benie des Dieux (although she is likely to run in the Mares’ Hurdle).

Unless you favour ‘recency bias’, the home team has a good record in the race.

All things considered, Paisley Park, would look to hold a very good chance. Supasundae rates as the main danger. If he wins, it would mean that trainer Jessica Harrington will have completed the ‘full set’ of the major races at the Cheltenham Festival – Champion Hurdle (Jezki), Champion Chase (Moscow Flyer), Cheltenham Gold Cup (Sizing John) and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Faugheen, of course, will quite rightly, have his supporters. What a horse he has been over the years. However, from a stats perspective, others look stronger on this occasion.

Two lengths or less may be worth considering as the winning distance.



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article