Flooring Porter’s attempt to win the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for the third time in a row is in jeopardy, according to trainer Gavin Cromwell.
The star of the staying hurdle division was a 5-1 shot to win the Stayers’ Hurdle for the third time, which would bring him within one victory of Big Buck, but his trainer now rates his participation at 50-50.
Cromwell told the Racing Post on Wednesday: “Unfortunately Flooring Porter has suffered a setback and it’s going to be tight as to whether he will make Cheltenham or not. I would say at this stage it’s probably 50-50. The next three weeks will tell a lot, but he will be missing bits of work which is not ideal.
“It is not a career-threatening injury or anything like that, it is just a small setback which is going to hold us up a bit.”
One of the most successful success stories in jump racing in recent times is Flooring Porter’s journey from poverty to wealth. When he won a maiden hurdle at Bellewstown in 2019, he was only rated 95 and had lost his first four races.
He has gone from strength to strength ever since he won a handicap hurdle at Gowran Park in 2020. He now has a rating of 162 and has won the last two Cheltenham Festivals.
Flooring Porter was defeated at Navan and Leopardstown on his way to winning his second Stayers’ Hurdle in 2022 under another excellent front-running steer from Danny Mullins. He typically saves his best performances for the spring.
This year, the eight-year-old went through a similar training. In November, he finished fourth to Home By The Lee in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan, losing by 12 lengths. However, in the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, he came within three and three-quarter lengths of the same horse.
Flooring Porter has been competing for the Stayers’ Hurdle all season, but the news of his defeat has made Home By The Lee the 4-1 sponsor favourite.
Ned Hogarty, who owns Flooring Porter with father and son Tommy and Alan Sweeney and Kerril Creaven and owns a flooring company in Galway, was one of the festival’s most memorable moments when they carried Mullins on their shoulders after winning the Stayers Hurdle last year. The Thursday lineup at Cheltenham would suffer greatly if he were to withdraw from the 2023 festival.
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