Cleeve Hurdle Tips: Paisley Park to chase home Champ at Cheltenham

Paisley Park Cleeve Hurdle

Nicky Henderson's Champ is the new Stayers' Hurdle favourite after Klassical Dream flopped at Gowran Park on Thursday, and the Seven Barrows raider will be a warm order on Saturday afternoon for the Cleeve Hurdle, which takes place at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day...

Having appeared to put a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the back burner, Champ looks set for a campaign over hurdles, and he showed his abilities over the smaller obstacles when bounding to a fine victory in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. Instantly slashed in the Stayers' Hurdle betting following that Long Walk win, Champ is now a short-priced 11/4 favourite for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece on March 17.

Ending his novice hurdle campaign back in 2019, which saw him bound to glory in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree, Champ then went on to claim RSA Chase glory at the 2020 Festival, but failed to land a blow when pulled up in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Reverting to hurdles at the start of this season, Champ produced a faultless display to beat Thyme Hill and Paisley Park in comfortable fashion, and a repeat of that effort should see him make it two out of two wins for the season. He should improve for his first start of the campaign and with an almighty engine and a touch of class it's no shock to see him installed as a red-hot 1/2 favourite.

If he can sparkle once again over the smaller obstacles then victory here would cement his place at the head of the Stayers' Hurdle betting, and it's hard to not see him claim another notable Graded success.

Cheltenham Tips

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Emma Lavelle's Paisley Park will be looking to emulate the legendary Lady Rebecca by claiming three Cleeve Hurdles on the spin, but the ten-year-old has found life tough since winning this event two years ago (2021 Cleeve Hurdle was abandoned) and he may not be the force of old. However, the former Stayers' Hurdle winner wasn't disgraced when beaten five lengths by Champ in the Long Walk, and while he may not have the ability to reverse the form, the 5/4 about Paisley Park in the betting without Champ looks a decent play, as does the each-way play on the proven Cheltenham performer.

Paisley Park has shown that he relishes the Cheltenham hill, and the undulations can certainly help bring his stamina to the fore, and with the second favourite Mcfabulous having stamina worries then Lavelle's charge looks the one to be with. Mcfabulous was a winner of the Relkeel Hurdle last January over 2m 5f, but he was well beaten by Stormy Ireland in this year's running of that contest, and the step up in trip is likely to improve his chance.

The Paul Nicholls-trained raider was beaten five lengths by Paisley Park on his only try over three miles in the 2020 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, and Lavelle's charge should be able to outbattle him up the straight on Saturday afternoon, and it's hard to see the Ditcheat contender getting involved in the final knockings.

Another former Stayers' Hurdle winner in the shape of Lisnagar Oscar lines up in this contest, and the 2020 Cheltenham Festival winner is another that has gone off the boil in recent times, and was last seen pulling up in the Long Walk. Having not got his head in front since winning the Stayers at 50/1, Rebecca Curtis' charge looks to be up against here.

Fergal O'Brien's Dandy Mag is the outsider of the quintet, and having struggled in a Wincanton handicap hurdle last time out then it's hard to see him take any part in the finish here in a race that can see Champ beat Paisley Park in a mediocre renewal.

Cleeve Hurdle
Paisley Park silk

Paisley Park (EW)

Cheltenham Festival
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