Emma Lavelle to give Paisley Park a fresh challenge

EMMA LAVELLE will send former Cheltenham hero Paisley Park novice chasing if he doesn’t excel in his comeback run over hurdles.

Aidan Coleman shakes the hand of the defeated Joe Colliver after Paisley Park beat Sam Spinner in the 2019 Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Her training career continues to be defined by the ever popular horse and his triumph in 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle at the National Hunt Festival over North Yorkshire’s Sam Spinner.

But the now nine-year-old horse, owned by the ever-enthusiastic Andrew Gemmell who has to listen to commentaries after being blind since birth, was beaten in the 2020 and last season saw Paisley Park experience fluctuating fortunes.

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Second on his comeback at Newbury, he won Ascot’s Grade One Long Walk Hurdle before finishing third at Cheltenham and being pulled up at Aintree’s Randox Health Grand National meeting.

The Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park and Aidan Coleman in winning action.

Now the plan is for Paisley Park to line up in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday – the main support race to the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase – and then decide a plan of attack.

“Paisley Park is good and the idea is to start off at Wetherby provided the ground is on the slow side,” said Lavelle.

“He has been in brilliant form since he has come back in. He seems really well in himself and has done everything we have asked of him.

“He came in a little earlier this season with a view to getting him out earlier and he is definitely ready to run this weekend as long as the ground is suitable. There is rain forecast later in the week, so fingers crossed it arrives.”

Paisley Park and Aidan Coleman are due to line up in Wetherby's West Yorkshire Hurdle this Saturday.

On Paisley Park appearing to lose his way last season, Lavelle reflected: “His win in the Long Walk was amazing and it was a very emotional day for us. For him to come back and to tough it out the way he did was great.

“He is an older horse now and the big gap between the Long Walk and the Festival, having lost the Cleeve to the weather, certainly didn’t play to his strengths.

“I just think that he needed to have a run in between and a racecourse gallop was just not enough.

“Although I think he ran a great race at Cheltenham in the Stayers’ Hurdle where he made up so much ground to finish third ultimately that lack of match practice cost us.

“I think the effort he put into finishing where he did took its toll and Aintree was a race too far for him. He came out of the race really well and is absolutely fine in himself.”

Should all not go to plan over hurdles for Paisley Park then a switch to novice chasing could be on the cards after the gelding impressed in a schooling session under Aidan Coleman who was without a Grade One winner to his name until he began his association with the staying hurdler.

Lavelle added: “We didn’t tell anyone and Aidan came in and we went for a nip onto the schooling ground when no one else was around and gave him a pop over a fence.

“We thought if he was good it might open up a few ideas. He was so quick through the air, we couldn’t be happier with him. As things stand I envisage him staying over hurdles if he brings what he is showing at home to the races.

“What is exciting is that we have novice chasing if we need it.”

Meanwhile Sue Smith’s Midnight Shadow – a pleasing third on his seasonal comeback in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday – and Brian Ellison’s Nietzsche both feature amongst 45 entries for next month’s feature Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Malton-based Ellison also has Cormier in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at the same meeting.