Paisley Park eases to Cleeve Hurdle triumph to maintain unbeaten stretch

Paisley Park ridden by Aidan Coleman on their way to victory in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham. Picture: David Davies/PA
Paisley Park ridden by Aidan Coleman on their way to victory in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham. Picture: David Davies/PA
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PAISLEY PARK stretched his unbeaten run to seven with another professional display in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle hero won on his seasonal return at Newbury and was due to run at Ascot last month, but testing conditions ruled him out on the day of the race.

He’s just brilliant, he’s gone round in second gear and he’s an absolute pleasure. I’m just delighted to be associated with him.

Jockey Adian Coleman

Trainer Emma Lavelle was not concerned about the change in plan and Paisley Park travelled beautifully through the race, with Aidan Coleman keeping him in a handy position throughout.

Summerville Boy, stepping up to three miles for the first time, tried to make all and he was still in front as they turned into the straight.

However, Coleman knew what he had under him and on the run to the last, Paisley Park began to make ominous progress.

He jumped the last cleanly and the 4-6 favourite won by a length and a quarter, with Summerville Boy in second and 50-1 chance Lisnagar Oscar third.

“This horse isn’t slow, but we’ve gone slow today and it turned into a bit of a sprint, so I knew I was going to have to get stuck into him at some point,” said Coleman.

“Usually I get to the front way too soon, but today I got to the front at the last and I thought that was perfect.

“He’s just brilliant, he’s gone round in second gear and he’s an absolute pleasure. I’m just delighted to be associated with him.

“I’ve waited for a horse like this, better riders than me have never found one as good as him.”

Paisley Park was winning the race for a second successive year and Lavelle was delighted to see him strike gold again.

She said: “He doesn’t hit the flat spot the way he used to.

“I think he was as professional today as he has been. I think he is getting better and I think I love him. It is brilliant.

“It is not just the pressure for the yard and Andrew (Gemmell, owner), but you feel you have the pressure of everybody rooting for him. He loves it and we are loving having him.

“He is not a slow horse himself and he is a stayer that has got pace. Watching it I enjoyed it a bit more than some of the other races I’ve watched with him. I thought that was as good a performance as I’ve seen from him.”

Santini got the better of an exciting duel with Bristol De Mai in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

The two looked the class acts on paper for the Gold Cup trial and they pulled a long way clear of the others, lead by classy handicappers Top Ville Ben and De Rasher Counter.

Phil Kirby was encouraged to see his top staying chaser Top Ville Ben “do everything right”, albeit in defeat as an honourable third in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

The eight-year-old proved his tearaway days are behind him as he responded well to hold-up tactics and made ground into contention before eventually finishing around 30 lengths adrift of Gold Cup heavyweights Santini and Bristol De Mai.

Kirby, who has also given an upbeat report on his stable star Lady Buttons after her victory in the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster, believes Top Ville Ben adapted well to his rise in class on Saturday.

“He ran great,” the North Yorkshire trainer told Sky Sports Racing. “It was obviously a big step up in grade for him really- competing at Gold Cup level. But he didn’t let us down, and I hope we’ll have some good days with him going forward.”

Top Ville Ben, who holds a Gold Cup entry and has long been thought of as a possible Grand National contender, previously won the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby.

Kirby added: “Just to have horses to run in those races is brilliant. I thought he did everything right. It’s the first time we’ve properly dropped him in there yesterday - and he’s learning all the time, and going the right way.”