Punchestown Champion Stayers Hurdle Tips: Vanillier to cause a shock in Grade 1 feature
A sparkling field of eight will line up for the 2022 Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle on day three of the Punchestown Festival, and we preview the Thursday feature and have a big-priced each-way contender to go to battle with...
Returning after a lengthy absence to storm to an emphatic nine-length victory in this race 12 months ago, Klassical Dream is a warm order to retain his Stayers' Hurdle crown on day three of the Punchestown Festival, but the Willie Mullins-trained raider will need to bounce back from a below-par effort in the Stayers' Hurdle at last month's Cheltenham Festival.
Travelling like a dream through the first three-quarters of the Cheltenham contest, Klassical Dream was unable to pick up and go with the eventual winner Flooring Porter, who kicked from the front and was away and gone. He will not clash with the champion that day here, and a return to Punchestown should see him at his best, but he's awfully short in a race jam-packed with decent stayers, and there could be a value alternative to the market leader.
One of those likely to be a major thorn in the side of Klassical Dream is Gordon Elliott's Sire Du Berlais, who produced a fine display last time out to win the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting. Having failed to recapture his Pertemps Final crown, the JP McManus-owned raider beat the Stayers' Hurdle hero Flooring Porter in a fine battle, so a repeat of that would see him go close. However, that success may have taken a lot out of him, so he could be vulnerable as he looks to follow up.
Emma Lavelle will send Paisley Park over to Ireland to contest this event, and he ran a stormer to finish third in the Stayers' Hurdle, after he was outpaced at a crucial stage of the race. Making his first trip across the Irish Sea, Paisley Park will no doubt run a decent race, and is sure to be doing his best work late on, but at 7/1 he offers no value at all.
The young, improving pretender is the six-year-old Thedevilscoachman, who was last seen bounding to victory over Ashdale Bob in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan, and that pair will take their chance here. A head was between the pair that day, and Thedevilscoachman is half the price than his old adversary here, so some could go the way of Ashdale Bob, but Noel Meade's six-year-old Thedevilscoachman could be open to more improvement and should frank the form.
A fascinating runner is the Gavin Cromwell-trained VANILLIER, who was last seen finishing a well beaten third in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and that poor run has seen the Cromwell team drop him back to hurdles here, which should see him in his best light. A rather disappointing novice chase campaign saw him rack up a whole host of third placed finishes, but over timber we know he's a real class act, as he was a fine winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle earlier in his career.
Proven at the highest level over hurdles, Vanillier could get a real buzz for a return over the smaller obstacles, and at 14/1 at the moment he warrants a cracking each-way bet providing the eight remain in the field and punters are able to get three places for their each way money.
Completing the line-up will be Concertista, who is another reverting the hurdling sphere after a disappointing run over fences at Cheltenham last month, but she lacks the class of some of these, while the Mouse Morris-trained Gentlemansgame will need to improve on a Thurles win last time out, and a switch to top-class company should see him struggle in a fascinating renewal.