Andy Holding has previewed the 2022 Stayers' Hurdle and has one ante-post tip to consider.
2022 Stayers' Hurdle
The key to any race from an ante-post perspective is to try and identify as many wrong prices as possible due to the likelihood of many of the quoted horses not taking part, and there’s no doubt this season’s Stayers Hurdle has that sort of feel to it.
Klassical Dream heads the lists around the 4-1 mark based on his scintillating display at Punchestown last season, but there has to be a slight doubt about the validity of the form at the end of hard campaign for many of the participants. Flooring Porter was one of the chief sufferers at the Co Kildare venue after putting so much effort into winning the Stayers Hurdle last season and he’s also best judged on his form going left-handed. That said, his season didn’t exactly start how connections would have wanted with a nasty fall at Navan recently, so it remains to be seen whether he can get back to somewhere like he best both mentally and physically. Sire Du Berlais is always worth consideration given his record at the Cheltenham festival over the last few years but he will be ten years old next year, and the only horse aged in double-figures to win the three-mile event at the Festival was Crimson Embers as an 11-year-old back in 1986. Thyme Hill looks the best of the UK horses over three miles based on his three excellent performances in Grade 1’s last season, but he was beaten 41 lengths in France on his seasonal comeback, so we don’t know where we stand with him at present. Of the rest, Galopin Des Champs, Beacon Edge, Bob Olinger, Appreciate It and Galvin, all quoted at 20-1 or below with several firms are likely to pursue or continue their careers over fences, while connections of Latest Exhibition are quite open minded about how the season might pan out for him.
As you can see, there are quite a few if’s and but’s with many of the so-called main players, so that leads us nicely onto the possible joker in the pack in this division, namely BUZZ (best price 20-1).
A quality performer in some of the best two-mile handicaps last season, Nicky Henderson’s gelding took his game to an even higher level when pushing the top-class Abacadabras all the way in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle at last season’s Grand National meeting. Proving that he stayed the 2m4f journey really well that day, if anything he intimated that a greater test would see him to even greater advantage further down the line and that impression was confirmed no end in his latest encounter at Newmarket. Having his first outing on the Flat for his new yard and following a 184-day break, the son of Motivator tanked his way through what turned out to be an extremely strongly run race at HQ and even though the useful Willie Mullins-trained mare Burning Victory made him pull out all the stops inside the final two furlongs, he found plenty for pressure as he met the rising ground to ultimately win going away. The fact both he and the runner-up pulled ten lengths clear of a stellar field that included the likes of subsequent November Handicap third, Calling The Wind, the rest of the well-fancied Willie Mullins’ battalions along with a whole host of top-quality staying handicappers, suggested it was probably one of the best renewals of the end-of-season stamina test seen in many a decade – the clock certainly backed up that view. On the evidence of that display, you’d be surprised if he doesn’t improve for three miles over hurdles in future and according to recent correspondence from his trainer and connections, that’s the route the seven-year-old grey will be exploring sooner rather than later. Working back from the Stayers’ Hurdle, races such as the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot and The Cleeve Hurdle over the very same C&D he’s likely to face in March will have no doubt have been discussed as possible stepping stones on the way to Cheltenham, so the only surprise about his seasonal comeback at Ascot this weekend in many regards is that he hasn’t been asked to wait for another week and tackle Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle on home soil. Either way, this talented, likeable and game performer is in the safest hands possible regards getting him to peak at the right moment and at his current price of 20-1, he rates the outstanding value for this season’s Stayer’s crown.
Don't miss the horses to follow for the 2021/22 jumps season, with one eye on Cheltenham Festival.