IS Paisley Park the most certain bet of the Cheltenham Festival? Quite possibly. It will take an almighty performance from one of the challengers to inflict a first defeat for Emma Lavelle’s stable star since the 2018 Festival.
Paisley Park has dominated the staying hurdle division to such an extent that it could be better off that connections for other hurdlers plan for different routes.
Can Paisley Park be beaten?
Recent form shows he’s in a league of his own and is miles ahead of the competition, which wholly justifies his 4/6 (Sport Nation) price.
The Aidan Coleman mount has won his last seven races by distances varying from half a length to 12 lengths, although you feel that any victory will likely be towards the lower end of this scale.
Paisley Park’s performance in the trial for this race at Cheltenham in January was just the 1 1/4-length win rather than the 12-length demolition job in 2019. In the most recent renewal of the Cleeve Hurdle, Summerville Boy was leading and looking strong until Coleman decided it was time to attack and from the approach to the last it was clear who was going to claim the spoils.
Of course, he is rightly a huge favourite and perhaps on of the more certain outcomes of the Festival, but we’ve been here before at Cheltenham when a dead-cert isn’t always guaranteed a canter to victory.
Summerville Boy ran Paisley Park closest in January and could be thereabouts again, but after a heady campaign, it would take something of a career-best from the Tom George-trained eight-year-old to go one better and win.
He won brilliantly in the 2018 Supreme Novices Hurdle among a very competitive field and has since picked up one more win at Cheltenham, a solid performance on New Years’ Day after falling at Sandown.
At 17/2 with SportNation, Summerville Boy could be the value option to take on the frontrunner in this.
Emiton has been lightly campaigned and is limited on experience, plus finishing last to Summerville Boy in a field of six in January does not especially breed confidence. City Island and Penhill, meanwhile, could be interesting. Penhill brilliantly won this in 2018 for Willie Mullins with a career-best performance in a very competitive race at 12/1.
City Island was excellent to beat Champ in the Ballymore last year, but a switch to fences this season has backfired and you feel reverting back to hurdles in a competitive race, it will be too much to ask for him to be competitive here.
Benie Des Dieux (5/2) and Champ (15/2) hold entries and are fairly short prices, but are likely to take up engagements in other races.
Paisley Park is pretty unbeatable, which is down to two things. Firstly, he has everything you need to be a Staying Hurdle champion in abundance, but you can't help but think he's been helped by a very weak division. Emma Levine is likely to add another Grade One victory to her growing list, but it won't be as easy as last year.
Odds via SportNation.bet
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