The Stayers Hurdle is shaping up to be one of the races of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival with no fewer than 15 Grade 1 winners among the 25 entries and there could still be a few drops of juice in the ante-post betting market too.
Charles Byrnes’ Blazing Khal (9/4) has claimed favouritism following his Boyne Hurdle victory on February 12, but Gordon Elliot’s Teahupoo (3/1) should be the market leader. Here’s why:
Check out the latest Stayers’ Hurdle odds from Betzone
He has the best form on offer
Teahupoo’s two wins in as many starts this season represent the classiest form on offer among any of the contenders for this year’s Stayers’ Hurdle.
He landed his first Grade 1 victory in the Bar One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle over 2m3f at Fairyhouse on his first run of the campaign. Second that day was Klassical Dream, a dual Grade 1 hurdle winner over 3m, while the previously unbeaten two-time Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle was third.
Next time up he proved his aptitude for three miles when leaving the Galmoy Hurdle field strung out with the washing to coast home a 15-length winner.
Beacon Edge (44 lengths behind Teahupoo in fourth that day) returned to the track to take third behind Blazing Khal in the Boyne Hurdle, finishing just six-and-a-half lengths in arrears.
He has youth on his side
Eight of the last 10 Stayers’ Hurdle winners were aged six or seven, suggesting younger, less exposed hurdlers are the ones to side with here. At six, Teahupoo is one of the youngest among the remaining entries.
Flooring Porter (8), Home By The Lee (8), Marie’s Rock (8) and Klassical Dream (9) are all older than the ideal profile for this race and arguably lack the potential for further improvement Teahupoo will have on what will be only his second career start over 3m.
His Festival prep has been smooth…
…Unlike Blazing Khal, who trainer Byrnes described as 50-50 to make Cheltenham as recently as January.
The current Stayers’ Hurdle favourite had been off the track for 428 days before his Boyne Hurdle win, with the yard seemingly at a loss to pinpoint the problem holding him back.
Bettors interested in backing the seven-year-old will have the so-called bounce factor to contend with at the Festival, namely the dip in performance that often seems to follow a spectacular return from a long absence.
Compared to the ante-post market leader, Teahupoo’s season has been uncomplicated and with better form in the book and youth on his side he looks the better value bet for the Thursday showpiece.