Flooring Porter in fitness race against time for Stayers' Hurdle defence

Flooring Porter's Cheltenham Festival hopes appear to be improving after his recent injury setback, with trainer Gavin Cromwell rating his chances of starting the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as "70-30 or 80-20".

FLOORING PORTER winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham
FLOORING PORTER winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham  Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Cromwell revealed in mid-January that Flooring Porter had suffered a setback that meant his hopes of making the Festival were no better than "50-50" and "hanging in the balance".

 A month on, however, his County Meath handler issued a more positive update on his stable star's well-being, saying: "He's done plenty of work and has taken it all good so far, so we're pretty optimistic at this stage."

The eight-year-old was a brilliant all-the-way winner of the three-mile showpiece in 2021 and was similarly impressive when successfully defending his crown last season.

He has been beaten in both the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan and Leopardstown's Christmas Hurdle so far this season, but as that was also the case last term there was no serious cause for alarm.

In Flooring Porter's absence a number of horses have thrown their hat in the Stayers' Hurdle ring.

The Charles Byrnes-trained Blazing Khal is the new favourite after making a successful return in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan, Gordon Elliott's Teahupoo staked his claim by winning the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park and French ace Gold Tweet came from nowhere to beat the best of the British in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

With Flooring Porter's Navan and Leopardstown conqueror Home By The Lee also in the mix, the reigning champion is as big as 10/1 to join Inglis Drever as a three-time winner

"A few horses have come into it over the last few weeks and we're just hoping we can get our horse back to Cheltenham in the same nick he has been the last two years," Cromwell added.

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