Which were the top three staying hurdlers in 2020/21?
According to Timeform, the top three – or, in fact, the top four – staying hurdlers in 2020/21 were all trained in Ireland. They were, in order of preference, Flooring Porter (164), Sire Du Berlais (161) and, jointly, Beacon Edge (160) and Klassical Dream (160).
Trained by Gavin Cromwell, Flooring Porter began the 2020/21 season in handicap company but, after a 5lb rise in the weights for being beaten at Gowran Park on his reappearance in early October, made remarkable improvement. On his next start, at Navan in early December, he earned himself another 14lb rise after easily winning a better handicap by 12 lengths from the Bosses Oscar. Stepped up to Grade 1 company for the first time in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle just over three weeks later, he once again made all the running to beat the Storyteller by 6 lengths. He did not run again until the Cheltenham Festival, where he was only seventh choice of the 15 runners in the Stayers’ Hurdle, at 12/1, but travelled and jumped well to win, unchallenged, by 3¾ lengths from Sire Du Berlais.
Winner of the Pertemps Network Final at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, Sire Du Berlais narrowly won the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on his reappearance in November. Thereafter, he was restricted to just two runs, at Leopardstown and Cheltenham and proved no match for Flooring Porter on either occasion.
Beacon Edge recorded two routine wins in lesser races at the start of the 2020/21 and, in fact, was only beaten three-quarters of a length by subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle in the
Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November. He also won his preparatory race for the Cheltenham Festival, the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February, but could finish only fourth, beaten 5½ lengths, in the Stayers’ Hurdle. On his final start of the season, he lined up alongside Flooring Porter and the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream, who was making his first start for 16 months, in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at Punchestown in April. Flooring Porter ran inexplicably badly, being pulled up before the final flight and Beacon Edge fell at the second last, leaving Klassical Dream to readily land the spoils.