Penhill heads record 23 Irish entries for Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Last year’s winner one of 11 possibles for Willie Mullins

  • Thursday 17 January
  • News
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Last year’s winner Penhill is one of a record number of Irish entries among the 51 possibles for the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 14.

Willie Mullins has 11 of the 23 Irish-trained horses engaged at this stage, including 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen.

Penhill would be going for a third successive win at the Festival having won the Albert Bartlett in 2017 and claimed the Stayers’ Hurdle on his seasonal bow.

Coral Cup winner Bleu Berry, Bachasson, Benie Des Dieux and Melon also features among Mullins’ entries.

Last year’s runner-up Supasundae could bid for revenge while Gordon Elliott is responsible for eight, including Apple’s Jade, who is likely to run in the Mares’ Hurdle, and Samcro, who is currently on the easy list.

The leading British contender at this stage is Emma Lavelle’s Long Walk Hurdle winner Paisley Park while last year’s beaten favourite Sam Spinner is on the retrieval mission after almost refusing in the same race.

“Sam Spinner is in good form,” said trainer Jedd O’Keeffe.

“We don’t really know why he behaved like that at Ascot. The padded hurdles may have given him a fright, but he has schooled since and seems fine.

“The plan is still to go to the Cleeve Hurdle (Trials Day, Cheltenham, January 26) and hopefully all will be good and his confidence will be OK.

“Basically, we have got to try to get his career back on track. If we can get everything right again, the plan would be to return to the Festival for the Stayers’ Hurdle.”

One surprising entry is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Grade One-winning chaser Bristol De Mai while Yanworth also has the option on his return from injury.

Midnight Shadow, Lil Rockerfeller, Black Op, Agrapart, Unowhatimeanharry and Keeper Hill are also entered.

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