Cheltenham - At The Races

15:30 Cheltenham 15 Mar 2018

Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4YO plus)

Winner £192,707 - 15 ran

4

2m 7f 213y

Soft (Heavy in places)

View Course Guide

Weighed In

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 31st January

Willie Mullins won last year’s renewal of the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle with an ex-Flat racer (Nichols Canyon) and may do so again, this time with PENHILL.

The 7yo has not been seen since chasing home Champagne Classic at the Punchestown Festival, but his trainer hadn’t planned to reintroduce him until after Christmas anyway and he’s being kept fresh for the big spring meetings.

Rated 100 on the level for Luca Cumani, the gelding had shown surprisingly good form in soft/heavy ground over hurdles last winter so it wasn’t a shock when he improved again to run out a decisive winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on faster sod.

Sent off a strong favourite to follow up at Punchestown, he lost little in defeat to the more advantageously ridden Champagne Classic, himself a Cheltenham winner having landed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on his previous start.

The 7yo has not been seen since chasing home Champagne Classic at the Punchestown Festival, but his trainer hadn’t planned to reintroduce him until after Christmas anyway and he’s being kept fresh for the big spring meetings.

The selection’s favoured hold-up style is well suited by the way races are usually run at the Festival and his record fresh is good, so it’s quite possible Mullins will send him straight there without a prep outing.

Either way, he appeals as a strong contender, versatile as regards ground and still relatively unexposed over three miles after just a trio of chances at the distance.

The Albert Bartlett form is holding up principally through Wholestone (comfortably held in third), who won the Relkeel on New Year’s Day and beat all bar confirmed mudlark Agrapart in a heavy-ground Cleeve at the weekend.

Sam Spinner heads the market with most firms and it’s hard to crab his victories in the Fixed Brush at Haydock and Ascot’s Long Walk.

Whether he’ll be quite so effective on quicker ground is a question mark though (should conditions follow the ‘normal’ pattern in March), likewise his lack of Cheltenham experience.

Gary's Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):

SUN BET STAYERS HURDLES (Thursday 15th March)

1pt win PENHILL (10/1 general OR 8/1 with Non-Runner No Bet firms)

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2017 Good 12 Nichols Canyon 7 11 10 - 33-312F 46 days W P Mullins R Walsh 10/1 5:49.60
2016 Good 12 Thistlecrack 8 11 10 - 51-2111 47 days C Tizzard (83 miles) T Scudamore Evens 5:42.60
2015 Good 16 Cole Harden 6 11 10 - 72-1234 47 days W Greatrex (45 miles) G Sheehan 14/1 5:41.00
2014 Good 10 More Of That 6 11 10 - 1-111 89 days Jonjo O'Neill (1 miles) B J Geraghty 15/2 5:49.50
2013 Good to Soft 13 Solwhit 9 11 10 - 1222-21 54 days C Byrnes Paul Carberry 17/2 6:24.90
2012 Good 11 Big Buck's 9 11 10 - 111-111 47 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 5/6 5:44.60
2011 Good 13 Big Buck's 8 11 10 - 1111-11 78 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 10/11 5:50.80
2010 Good to Soft 14 Big Buck's 7 11 10 - 1111-11 79 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 5/6 5:49.40
2009 Good to Soft 14 Big Buck's 6 11 10 - 371-U11 47 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 6/1 5:57.00
2008 Good to Soft 17 Inglis Drever 9 11 10 - 1213-11 47 days J H Johnson (228 miles) D O'Regan 11/8 5:52.90