Published 7th February
Willie Mullins’s nine-year-old remains unbeaten at Cheltenham, his victory in the 2018 renewal of this completing a Festival back-to-back double initiated in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
A 100-rated Flat performer for Luca Cumani, the gelding has been relatively lightly raced over jumps (currently 14 hurdle starts to his name) and makes each-way appeal with a record over three miles that reads three wins, three seconds and a third from seven tries.
He’s yet to show anything like peak form in three runs back, but testing ground is probably not ideal for a horse with his pedigree and Flat form - even though it was soft when he beat Supasundae here two years ago.
A stronger pace on better ground in a bigger field is likely to prove a more favourable scenario and it’s hard to believe he’s not been brought along steadily with this race in mind.
Three firms are currently offering 16-1 Non Runner, No Bet and that may be the way to go - given Mullins has several potential candidates for the race - rather than taking the 20-1 elsewhere without the concession.
Paisley Park has looked imperious in this division over the last two seasons and is justifiably viewed as one of the meeting’s bankers.
Emma Lavelle’s eight-year-old is a strong stayer very much suited by the demands of the race and looks in his prime based on both wins this season coming in slower-run contests.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, Thursday 12th March
0.5pt each-way PENHILL (16-1 Betfred, Betway, Boylesports, Ladbrokes, 14-1 Coral - all Non Runner, No Bet)
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo