The Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle is a Grade 1 championship hurdle race..
The Stayers' Hurdle is the most prestigious 3 mile hurdle race in the whole calendar and is run for long distance hurdlers on the third day of the Cheltenham festival.
First Run in 1972 this is the race that all top class long distance hurdlers are aimed at all season.
The race is open to all horses of the age 4 years and over.
Day three of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival is now upon us and the star race of the day is the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle. There has been a long-time favourite for this race, a horse trained by Harry Fry and owned by JP McManus, and that is Unowhatimeanharry. This nine-year-old bay gelding is unbeaten in his last eight races indeed he is unbeaten for the last two seasons. He has done very little wrong and has won every race by a good margin. He won last season's Albert Bartlett novices hurdle in really good style. He has improved since then and doesn't seem to have very many chinks in his armour as he jumps good and fast and seems to handle every ground although he would prefer it perhaps on the soft side of good. A worthy favourite will take some beating today.
Jezki is an Irish-trained horse who is trained by Jessica Harrington. He has been a regular at Cheltenham since 2012 when he contested the Champion bumper. In 2013 he was third in the supreme novice hurdle. And in 2014 he was a really good winner of the Champion hurdle beating the horse that has been second on four occasions in the race, My tent Or Yours. In 2015 again he was in the Champion hurdle and finished fourth. After that, he went to Aintree and then the Punchestown Festival is winning really well twice the second time getting the beating of the very smart Hurricane Fly. He was then off the track until January this year when we saw his return at Navan where he returned to winning ways over 2 miles on soft ground. He has been given one run since then where he was beaten by four lengths by Tombstone, who did not confirm the form by running poorly yesterday. A really good horse and who is fancied by some good judges.
Cole Harden is also a Cheltenham regular and a horse that won this race back in 2015. Last season's returnee came up against the great Thistlecrack but ran on well and finished fourth. He seems to be coming back to form now and on his last run he was 2nd to today's favourite but was staying on at the end of the race. Should make the frame and could take advantage should the very smart favourite run into any problems.
The Irish trainer Willie Mullins is not having very much luck at this year's Festival and unbelievably has gone to 2 full days without a winner. He sends three in this race, the first of which is Shaneshill. A smart horse who is returning to Cheltenham for the fourth time. In 2014 he was second in the Champion bumper, 2015 he was second in the supreme novice behind the superstar Douvan, and then last year was second once again in the RSA behind the smart Blaklion. As you can see he always seems to be the bridesmaid at this meeting however he comes here in good form and although he will have to find 9 pounds of improvement in the ratings to beat the favourite he comes year with a really good chance.
Nichols Canyon is the second of Willie Mullins is horses and is one year younger than his stablemate. This horse was a listed winner on the flat when trained by John Gosden and then moved to the Willie Mullins yard and looked to be going the right way. He put up a series of good wins before coming to the 2015 Festival where he ran in the Neptune novice hurdle. He finished third that day but he pulled early on and made a mistake at a crucial part of the race. Last season he was in the Champion hurdle but come up against the very smart mare Annie Power and finished third. He has been doing most of his running over 2 miles however he was tried at 3 miles in his last race of the season where he was sent to America to run in a hurdle race. He was beaten into third that day and his stable companion Shaneshill finished just a neck in front of him in second. He has been chosen by the stable jockey Ruby Walsh who could have ridden he either horse. That has to be a plus.
The third Willie Mullins horse is Clondaw Warrior. A 10-year-old gelding who is making his first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival. He did run here once however in the 2014 November meeting and finished third in the grade 1 hurdle over 2 miles and half a furlong. Also in his younger days, he did win a bumper race at the October meeting. He is a horse that requires good ground to show is best or even firm ground. If there's been no watering overnight then the course may be drying out to genuine good ground this would certainly help his cause.
Snow Falcon is sent here by Irish trainer Noel Meade. A nice horse who was sent over to the festival in 2015 when he finished fifth in the Neptune. Has been stepped up to 3 miles in his last few races but hasn't managed to win, although he has been getting better with each run and finished quite close to Shaneshill at his last attempt in Ireland. Improvement needed here but we may not yet have seen the best of him over 3 miles.
Colin Tizzard trained, West Approach looks one of the more lively outsiders. A young seven-year-old bay gelding he has been tried in 7 of his 13 starts at this course. He hasn't yet managed to win but has run with credit every time. He has quite a bit to find on the rest with regards to ratings but he could just be one of those horses that will show good improvement in a fast run race.
Lil Rockerfella is one of the youngest in the race at six years old. He contested last year's Champion hurdle over the minimum trip and finished midfield. He has since been tried or longer distances and whilst running with much credit hasn't quite managed to get his head in front however his best run was when 2nd to today's favourite at Ascot in the Long walk hurdle. He was, however, four and a half lengths behind the winner and never looked like catching him.
The 10-year-old Zarkandar is a very smart horse. He rarely runs a bad race and often gives his all but too often seems to come up against one or two too good for him. That said he did show real improvement in the grade 2 hurdle at Haydock over 2 miles and 7 furlongs where he seemed to stay really well. Can run a bit in and out but could easily be one to make the frame a huge price.
Agrapart is sent year by trainer Nick Williams who had his first Cheltenham Festival winner yesterday. Clearly, his team are in good form and this is a six-year-old gelding has been improving with every run. The key to the horse is the ground it must have very soft ground and that won't be an advantage today.
The Irish trainer Gordon Elliott is having a wonderful Festival so far and sends Degitout in this race this is a well-exposed 11-year-old who looks to have it all to do here today.
|1||6-7413||Agrapart||6||11-10||Nick Williams||Lizzie Kelly|
|2||1F2F4||Ballyoptic||7||11-10||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|3||3-1123||Clondaw Warrior||10||11-10||W P Mullins||Ms K. Walsh|
|4||34-232||Cole Harden||8||11-10||Warren Greatrex||Gavin Sheehan|
|6||1/1-12||Jezki||9||11-10||Mrs John Harrington||?|
|7||7-3224||Lil Rockerfeller||6||11-10||Neil King||Trevor Whelan|
|8||3-312F||Nichols Canyon||7||11-10||W P Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|9||F233F1||Shaneshill||8||11-10||W P Mullins||Paul Townend|
|10||11F32||Snow Falcon||7||11-10||Noel Meade||Sean Flanagan|
|11||11-111||Unowhatimeanharry||9||11-10||Harry Fry||Noel Fehily|
|12||1235U3||West Approach||7||11-10||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore|
|13||3-U571||Zarkandar||10||11-10||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|1||3-312F||Nichols Canyon||7||11-10||W P Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2||7-3224||Lil Rockerfeller||6||11-10||Neil King||Trevor Whelan|
|3||11-111||Unowhatimeanharry||9||11-10||Harry Fry||Noel Fehily|
|4||34-232||Cole Harden||8||11-10||Warren Greatrex||Gavin Sheehan|
|5||11F32||Snow Falcon||7||11-10||Noel Meade||Sean Flanagan|
|6||3-1123||Clondaw Warrior||10||11-10||W P Mullins||Ms K. Walsh|
|7||3-U571||Zarkandar||10||11-10||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|8||1/1-12||Jezki||9||11-10||Mrs John Harrington||Robbie Power|
|9||6-7413||Agrapart||6||11-10||Nick Williams||Lizzie Kelly|
|P/U||1F2F4||Ballyoptic||7||11-10||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|P/U||F233F1||Shaneshill||8||11-10||W P Mullins||Paul Townend|
|P/U||1235U3||West Approach||7||11-10||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore|