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Stayers' Hurdle betting tips: Side with George's 14/1 chance to leave each-way backers in the Black

Black Op can post a big run in Thursday's Stayers' Hurdle. (credit: GettyImages)

Brian Healy assesses Thursday's Stayers' Hurdle, the feature race on day three of the Cheltenham Festival where he picks out a lively each-way player.

The big race of the day on Thursday is the Stayers’ Hurdle, which goes to post at 3.30pm as the fourth race of the afternoon on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.


The three-mile championship race for the stayers’ crown lost a litle of its’ lustre when defending champion Penhill was ruled out of the race recently, leaving Emma Lavelle’s progressive Paisley Park as many peoples’ Festival banker as a result.

Unbeaten in his last four starts, the Oscar gelding has got better with every run, winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot and then following up in the Cleeve Hurdle over course and distance.

Owned by Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth, it would be something of a fairytale for the seven-year old to win given his own earlier health problems, and it isn’t hard to see why he has been installed as the bookies’ favourite to win this prize.

The evergreen Faugheen is a dangerous rival to discount if back to his best, and it is hard to forget the performance that the Germany gelding produced when romping to success over Penhill in last season’s Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown where he readily despatched the Cheltenham Festival hero by 13 lengths.

Undone by two miles on his return behind Sharjah in the Morgiana Hurdle, he might have given Apple’s Jade a race in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle but for falling two from home when still seemingly travelling well and only two lengths off Gordon Elliott’s star mare.

Paisley Park ran out a comfortable winner of the Cleeve Hurdle.


Not seen since, ‘the machine’ is an interesting contender; but at longer odds, Cleeve Hurdle third BLACK OP (14/1, Ladbrokes, each-way) could be worth keeping onside, and Tom George’s charge can turn in a big performance.

The Sandmason gelding twice finished runner-up here last term, behind Santini in the Classic Novices’ Hurdle prior to chasing home Samcro in the Ballymore Hurdle; he subsequently finished his season on a high when beating Lostintranslation to win the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on his final outing.

With the size and build of a chaser, the eight-year old had been expected to make his mark over the larger obstacles this term; but things haven’t gone to plan, and he hasn’t looked happy in either start over fences at Exeter and Cheltenham where he finished third both times.

However, he shaped well back over hurdles in the Cleeve Hurdle when trying three miles and having taken up the running after the second last, he ran out of puff heading to the last and he had no answer as the front pair sprinted away from him. He still finished ten lengths ahead of Sam Spinner, who looked more like his old self, and he could improve for that run.

He didn’t appear to see out his two earlier efforts over fences, so it is possible that he wasn’t fully wound up in that Cleeve Hurdle outing; but he could take a big step in the right direction with that run under his belt now.

Tom George's Black Op can improve for his recent third in the Cleeve Hurdle behind Paisley Park.


A winner between the flags in the point-to-point sphere, he may still make into a very smart chaser; but his immediate future lies over hurdles, and he could still have some further progress to come over the smaller obstacles. 

He does has some ground to make up with Emma Lavelle’s charge, but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him find another jolt of improvement and he can post a big effort in what looks a relatively open contest even allowing for what Paisley Park has achieved this season.

2019 STAYERS’ HURDLE SELECTION - BLACK OP (14/1, Ladbrokes, each-way)



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Stayers' Hurdle betting tips: Side with George's 14/1 chance to leave each-way backers in the Black

Brian Healy assesses Thursday's Stayers' Hurdle, the feature race on day three of the Cheltenham Festival where he picks out a lively each-way player.

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