Published 4th February
Very much a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ for the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle with PENHILL taken to repeat last year’s success.
Willie Mullins, who won the previous season’s renewal with another ex-Flat racer in Nichols Canyon, seems intent on sending Tony Bloom’s 8yo straight to the Festival again.
This unorthodox preparation worked a treat 12 months ago, the gelding swooping off a suprisingly modest pace and wide trip to comfortably land the spoils at the chief expense of Supasundae.
The latter, who boasts smart two-mile form as he showed again when chasing home Apple’s Jade in the Irish Champion Hurdle at the weekend, will be a danger once more but there’s no obvious reason why he’ll turn the tables.
Unorthodox preparation worked a treat 12 months ago, the gelding swooping off a suprisingly modest pace and wide trip to comfortably land the spoils.
Those two Festival triumphs came on contrasting ground too - good in 2017, soft last year - and, capable of producing a top performance level after a long layoff, Penhill is hard to knock.
Paisley Park has leapt to the head of the betting in the title-holder’s absence this season courtesy of four straight wins. The first two were in handicaps under a big weight, the last two in Grade 1s at Ascot and Cheltenham.
Emma Lavelle’s 7yo was particularly impressive in the Cleeve last time - hard to believe he was a 33-1 shot beaten over 50 lengths in last year’s Albert Bartlett, even accounting for the experiment with a first-time visor backfiring.
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