After winning back-to-back Cheltenham Festival wins, Flooring Porter missed out on a hat-trick in 2023 when finishing fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The Gavin Cromwell-charge had fitness concerns in the run up to the Festival, having faced a setback in preparations, but he is expected to be back in 2024.
|What||2024 Stayers' Hurdle|
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||3.30, Thursday 14th March 2024|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV|
|Odds||Gaelic Warrior 6/1, Teahupoo 12/1, Klassical Dream 12/1, Marie’s Rock 16/1, Sire Du Berlais 16/1|
Flooring Porter's rise to the summit was one of the feel-good stories of National Hunt racing in recent seasons.
He was something of a rag-to-riches improver. He was beaten in his first four races and was only rated 95 when he won a maiden hurdle at Bellewstown in August 2019, over an extended two-miles.
Since landing a three-mile handicap hurdle at Gowran Park in July 2020 off a mark of 122, he has gone from strength-to-strength.
The enthusiastic ownership group that follows his every move have contributed to the Flooring Porter story immensely.
Ned Hogarty, who has a flooring business in Ireland, owns Flooring Porter with father and son Tommy and Alan Sweeney, as well as Kerril Creaven, and the scenes with them carrying winning rider Danny Mullins on their shoulders after his second Stayers Hurdle victory, were amongst the most iconic from 2022.
After his fitness battle, Flooring Porter did line up for the Stayers’ Chase in 2023, looking to become just the third horse to win the race on three separate occasions.
Inglis Drever was the first to achieve it, in 2005, 2007 and 2008, before Big Buck’s went on to win the contest in four consecutive years between 2009 and 2012.
With Danny Mullins on board, Flooring Porter went off 9/2 whilst money came for Teahupoo, with Gordon Elliott’s runner the 9/4f at the off.
The defending champion soon led and set a good pace, but made a mistake two from home and was headed approaching the last.
After the charge up the hill, Flooring Porter eventually finished fourth – 3 ½ lengths behind the eventual winner Sire Du Berlais, who had gone off at 33/1.
Connections then decided to send the eight-year-old to for the Grand National Festival, taking his place in the field for the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle.
Flooring Porter was expected to make up for his Cheltenham disappointment and went off the 3/1f, but again was beaten by Sire Du Berlais.
Cromwell’s gelding jumped left throughout the race and despite setting a good pace, he was headed two out and was eventually beaten by 9 ¾ lengths.
It looks likely that Flooring Porter will be back at Prestbury Park in 2024, as Gavin Crowell seeks another Cheltenham Festival success.
The 2022 Stayers’ Hurdle winner is currently 25/1 to win the 2024 race, while Sire Du Berlais is 16/1 to successfully defend.
Cromwell will also have one eye on a first success, after coming so close to his first win in the Aintree showpiece.
Vanillier finished second to Corach Rambler – 2 ¼ lengths behind the winner - and the eight-year-old is 25/1 to win the 2024 Grand National.