Paisley Park and Thyme Hill are set to do battle as soon as extra within the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park emerged because the dominant power within the division when claiming the Grade One prize in 2019, however was discovered to be affected by a fibrillating coronary heart when failing to fireside in final season’s renewal.
The nine-year-old has bounced again to one thing like his greatest this time period – filling the runner-up spot behind the Philip Hobbs-trained Thyme Hill within the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, earlier than reversing that type in an epic climax to the Long Walk at Ascot.
The pair stay on track for a mouthwatering third conflict on the Festival on March 18, for which there are 51 entries.
Gordon Elliott has a robust hand, together with his four-strong crew headed by twin Festival winner Sire Du Berlais.
The JP McManus-owned gelding has gained the Pertemps Final in every of the previous two seasons and made a profitable begin to the present marketing campaign within the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan in November.
Sire Du Berlais needed to settle for minor honours on his newest look at Leopardstown over the Christmas interval behind Gavin Cromwell’s shock winner Flooring Porter, who can also be in Stayers’ Hurdle rivalry.
Elliott additionally has The Storyteller, Commander Of Fleet and Fury Road within the combine, whereas Willie Mullins has entered six horses for a race he has gained twice lately with Nichols Canyon (2017) and Penhill (2018).
The Closutton maestro’s sextet contains final 12 months’s third Bacardys, top-class mare Benie Des Dieux and triple Grade One-winning chaser Kemboy, who has not run over hurdles in almost 4 years.
Nicky Henderson has entered Gold Cup contender Champ, whereas shock 2019 winner Lisnagar Oscar (Rebecca Curtis), runner-up Ronald Pump (Matthew Smith), McFabulous (Paul Nicholls) and Sam Spinner (Jedd O’Keeffe) – who chased residence Paisley Park two years in the past – additionally function.
The latter has not checked out his greatest in two outings to date this season, however O’Keeffe believes there have been legitimate excuses.
He stated: “Sam Spinner is fine at home and the Stayers’ Hurdle is a definite target for him.
“He has had just a little little bit of day without work after his run at Newbury as an previous foot harm has flared up once more. Due to that harm, the plan is to remain over hurdles this season and so the Stayers’ Hurdle can be his major spring goal.
“I think we are going to struggle to get a run into him before the race, so he will be going to Cheltenham fresh.
“He has stable type at Cheltenham, so hopefully he can get there in a single piece.”
There is one entry from France in Paul’s Saga (David Cottin). The seven-year-old mare landed the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle) in October.