Paisley Park needs to improve to regain crown
Emma Lavelle accepts Paisely Park may need to progress again if he is to regain his Stayers’ Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old suffered a shock defeat in the Grade One feature back in March – coming home a well-beaten seventh behind Lisnagar Oscar, having triumphed in his two prep runs for the main event.
It later transpired Paisley Park had suffered an irregular heartbeat at the Festival. But after he worked with stablemate Hoi Polloi at Newbury as part of Tuesday’s Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gallops morning, Lavelle believes he is primed for his return in the Long Distance Hurdle back at the Berkshire track on November 27 – a race he won first time out last term.
Lavelle said: “He has been absolutely brilliant. Barry (Fenton) rides him all the time and he knows him inside out.
“All the way through this season, he has been happier with him. He has just felt really sparky and well in himself. He is just much more up for it and he hasn’t had to ask him any questions.
“He came in with a beaming smile after that (gallop), because he was bulling for more as they crossed the line. Coming here was not about seeing how fast he could go up the home straight, it was about lengthening. He lengthened for five furlongs.
“Both horses came out of it full of confidence. They’ve had a nice blow, and it would have brought him forward and hopefully put him spot on for a week on Friday.”
Lavelle has no plans to go over fences with Paisley Park in the future, but admits he will need to raise his game again if he is to remain among the top rank in the staying hurdle division.
She added: “I’d say he will be a hurdler for the rest of his career. He is a great jumper of a hurdle now, but he took a long time to be a good jumper of a hurdle. I don’t know if he is manly enough to tackle fences. If we can win the races we have been winning, why take that risk?
“Every year you look at the new horses coming up that are going to have a crack at that division, and we were one of them. I’d never take any of these horses for granted, but I sometimes think once you have been there and done it, there has been a history of those kind of horses remaining at the top for a while in this division, and we are hoping that he is one of them.
“He probably will have to step forward again, but he is only eight. I think naturally he should still be getting better, if everything operates in the way that it should.”
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