Paisley Park is all the rage to retain to his Stayers’ Hurdle crown at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and a hot favourite with bookmakers, but Emma Lavelle’s stable star missed a planned Christmastime run at Ascot in the Marsh Hurdle on account of heavy ground.

In his absence, The Worlds End took that three-mile Grade 1 contest better known as the Long Walk in Berkshire, as reported at Trained by Tom George, he has won two of his four starts since being switched back to hurdles and may be an each-way alternative to Paisley Park at odds of 20/1 come Cheltenham.


It is worth noting, however, that Paisley Park proved seven lengths too strong for The Worlds End in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury off level weights. The festive season has thrown up horses that could provide even more credible opposition, though.

George, who trains locally to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, has another potential contender for a crack at Paisley Park in Summerville Boy. The 2018 Supreme hero bounced back after a difficult campaign last season and was not convincing as a novice chaser with a winning return to the smaller obstacles in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle.

It would be no surprise to see Summerville Boy, who has winning form at the highest level on heavy ground and also acts on soft going, among Cheltenham tips at for the Stayers’ Hurdle at 25/1. The way he beat fellow Festival winners Roksana and William Henry in the Relkeel on New Year’s Day suggests stepping him up in trip again could well be worth a go.

In Ireland, meanwhile, it’s remarkable what a pair of cheekpieces can do. Apple’s Jade suddenly lost her magnificent form and came into her defence of the old Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on the back of five defeats.


The headgear worked wonders as Gordon Elliott’s mare bounced back in scintillating fashion. Apple’s Jade is now three out of four over three miles, so owners Gigginstown House Stud may be tempted to go down the Stayers’ Hurdle route.

Standout ante post odds of 20/1 look real each-way value if she can avoid a repeat of the spring slump suffered in the last two seasons. Apple’s Jade has won 11 Grade 1 races in her glittering career now and is of an age with Paisley Park, who she would get a 7lb sex allowance from.

Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Penhill, meanwhile, took the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2018 in impressive fashion, which you can relive at Trained by Willie Mullins for Tony Bloom, he looks to be building up to something after posting an improved effort in-behind Apple’s Jade when third at Leopardstown over Christmas.

That was just Penhill’s second outing after spending 584 days out of action. Mullins has a magnificent record of bringing horses back after long absences and Stayers’ Hurdle odds of 16/1 for this one are well worth considering, given his course and distance form at past Festivals.