Flooring Porter winning at Cheltenham last year. Photo: Racing Post.

Flooring Porter aims for historic Stayers Hurdle treble

Locally-owned Flooring Porter is being aimed at an historic hat trick of Stayers Hurdle successes at Cheltenham this week.

The horse is owned by the South Roscommon/East Galway four-man Flooring Porter syndicate, consisting of Ned Hogarty, father and son duo Tommy and Alan Sweeney, and Kerril Creaven (Alan’s uncle).

Alan and Kerril previously ran The Countryman pub in Creagh and as the Hogarty family run a flooring and DIY business, the syndicate name was conceived by combining flooring with a few pints of porter. Another link to the publican trade is that the Sweeney family previously ran The Birchgrove Bar on the Athlone Road near Ballinasloe.

The Hogarty business is located very close to Padraig Pearses GAA grounds in Woodmount. All of the quartet have been associated with Pearses in some capacity, with Alan’s brother Shane managing the Pearses hurlers to win the Roscommon senior title in 2020.

Flooring Porter, a bargain buy, has already sparked mass celebrations, with back to back wins in one of the centrepiece races of the Cheltenham Festival, the Paddy Powers Stayers Hurdle, set for the off at 3.30pm on Thursday.

This year, though, the preparations have been somewhat hampered, with the horse's participation in the big race in doubt for much of the last few months. The reigning champion's last run came when finishing fourth to Home By The Lee in the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. However, all indications are that Flooring Porter will be at the starting line, and soundings from the stable have been increasingly positive in recent weeks.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell has been a master of getting the horse to peak at Cheltenham. Indeed, the now eight-year-old gelding's only two wins in the calendar years 2021 and 2022 were in the Stayers Hurdle.

In 2021, Danny Mullins produced a brilliant front-running ride to bring the 12/1 shot home with a three and a quarter length winning margin.

The 12/1 shot was carrying not only the hopes of the local owners but a lot of money from the wider Ballinasloe/South Roscommon/Athlone area.

Covid restrictions meant it was until last year that the four owners had the opportunity to celebrate at Prestbury Park, when Mullins again produced a dominant ride to ensure a back to back successes, this time at odds of 4/1.

A victory on Thursday would see him join Inglis Drever in the ranks of those who have managed three wins in the race. Only the legendary Big Buck's has managed to secure four victories.

Sponsors Paddy Power currently quote a price of 9/2, in from 6/1 earlier in the week, for Flooring Porter. The joint favourites are Blazing King and Teahupoo, currently at 3/1.