Start of the season odds and tips for the 2023 Stayers' Hurdle
This Grade One is the feature championship race on day three of the Cheltenham Festival
Flooring Porter will be aiming to make it three victories in a row
Buzz, Klassical Dream and The Nice Guy sit prominently in the market
Zanahiyr is our early value bet at 20/1
Danny Mullins and Flooring Porter win the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. (Getty)
For the second year in a row, chaos descended upon the Cheltenham Festival winners' enclosure following the Stayers' Hurdle. Flooring Porter produced another excellent performance to successfully defend his crown, drawing raucous celebrations from his jubilant and boisterous ownership syndicate.
Gavin Cromwell's star will attempt to join Inglis Drever and Big Buck's in the exclusive club of three-time Stayers' Hurdle winners when he returns to Prestbury Park in April. Here are the current 2023 Stayers' Hurdle odds and an early Cheltenham Festival tip.
Following another win at the Cheltenham Festival, Flooring Porter was surprisingly beaten at Aintree by Sire Du Berlais, as the top two pulled a long way clear of Champ and Thomas Darby.
Flooring Porter's entire 2022/23 season will be geared towards Cheltenham, a venue he clearly loves. Cromwell's charge is seven turning eight, so there's every chance he's still improving. No matter what he achieves prior to the Cheltenham Festival, Flooring Porter has to be regarded as the one they all have to beat.
Buzz had sat prominently in the 2022 Stayers' Hurdle betting prior to his freak injury. Nicky Henderson is confident he'll get his eight-year-old back on the track this season and last year's Cesarewitch winner still has untapped potential over three miles.
With The Nice Guy almost certain to head over fences this season, Willie Mullins' hopes will again lie in the lap of the mercurial Klassical Dream. Mullins' stayer could only finish fifth at Cheltenham, despite travelling ominously well through the first three-quarters of the race. Klassical Dream then defended his Champion Stayers' crown at Punchestown, before finishing a decent second in a valuable Grade One out in Auteuil.
Bob Olinger can be backed at 16s, but it would be a surprise if he reverted back to hurdles. Epatante and Marie's Rock both sit atop the Mares' Hurdle betting, so Nicky Henderson may attempt to step one of them up to three miles, as another tilt seems unlikely for the unpredictable Champ.
Aintree winner, Sire Du Berlais sits at a fairly lengthy price. As does Ashdale Bob, who ran so well behind Klassical Dream at Punchestown. Blazing Khal could progress into a Stayers' Hurdle contender if he remains over hurdles. Gordon Elliott's trio of Three Stripe Life, Zanahiyr and Pied Piper can all be backed at prices of 25/1 or shorter.
Of the British outsiders worth considering, Langer Dan stands out as a young hurdler who could improve when stepped up to three miles. Third Wind and Sporting John could be campaigned towards the Stayers' Hurdle. As could Walking On Air, who will benefit greatly from an extra season over hurdles.
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One runner who really sparks my imagination when I look through the ante-post Stayers' Hurdle betting is ZANAHIYR - a placer at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.
The Four-to-five-years-old season can be tough for precocious juvenile hurdlers, but I thought Gordon Elliott's charge acquitted himself brilliantly throughout the previous campaign. Zanahiyr bolted up by eight lengths in the WKD Hurdle on his reappearance, before plugging on well to place in the Morgiana, Matheson, Irish Champion and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Elliott's charge was crying out for a step up in trip and got his chance to impress over a new distance in the Aintree Hurdle. Zanahiyr and Epatante began to draw clear of their rivals approaching the final flight, with Epatante traveling marginally better. Jack Kennedy's mount, who had been jumping well, proceeded to dive at the final flight and that untimely departure allowed Epatante to coast home unchallenged.
Behind Flooring Porter, this division looks incredibly open. There's no doubt in my mind that Zanahiyr will stay three miles and he wouldn't have to improve far beyond his current rating of 159 to enter the Stayers' Hurdle picture.
If Gordon Elliott decides to take Zanahiyr down the three-mile hurdles route this season, he could progress into a genuine Stayers' Hurdle contender. He offers plenty of ante-post value at 20/1.
2023 Stayers' Hurdle Ante-Post Value Bet: Zanahiyr Each-Way @20/1 at Unibet - 5 Units
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