Last seasons hurdling star Paisley Park is said to be in rude health ahead of his return to the track in late November at Newbury with his trainer Emma Lavelle excited to see what her stable star has to offer in the new season.
The seven year old was the best three mile hurdler in Britain and Ireland being unbeaten on all five of his starts whilst taking on some of the best horses in the sport.
Paisley Park came onto the scene last season at Aintree when he took a Class 2 Handicap over two and a half miles, from there it was unthinkable of what progression he could of actually produced but he stepped up in trip to three miles and took to it like a duck to water.
Arguably one of his greatest runs during the season was his second start when he landed the Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle at Haydock, somehow getting up late in the day to see off two other horses.
Ascot was next on the agenda in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle and this was the geldings biggest test to date and he did what he does best coming from off the pace and off the bridle early to steam up by the leaders late in the day and land the contest.
Paisley Park landing the Grade 1 was the yards first ever black type victory which was huge for Emma Lavelle as she is a fairly small yard compared to others in the sport and it was a huge occasion for connections also, with his owner Andrew Gemmell being blind.
Cheltenham was next up in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle with the overall goal being the Stayers Hurdle at the festival with this being seen as a prep run and he bolted up again, leaving his odds for the four day meeting slashed massively.
March came around quickly and Paisley Park was being labelled one of the bankers of the week, which is unheard of in a big fielded race like the Stayers Hurdle but like he had done all season he hacked up and it turned out to be one of the fairytale moments of the 2019 Cheltenham festival.
Now a fan favourite, he is already 7/2 to defend his title at Prestbury Park next year with his trainer very excited to see if he can pick up from where he left off last season.
(Credit At The Races) She said: “Paisley is very good. He did very well over the summer and looks big and strong and quite round at the moment!
“He’s back cantering and we’re very happy with him. The Ladbrokes Trophy meeting at Newbury is his first target and after that the races sort of pick themselves – it’s definitely easier making plans for the top-class horses.
“Hopefully we’ll go to Newbury, then on to the Long Walk at Ascot, the Cleeve at Cheltenham and then straight to the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival and then possibly on to Punchestown – all fairly small targets!”
Now being a Grade 1 winning trainer and being the handler of such a special and well known horse in the jump racing world it could bring added pressure to Lavelle's job but she is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
She added: “It’s definitely a different feeling. Last season he was the up and coming one and now he’s the one who has to go and defend his crown.
“He’s still a young horse, though, who can only get stronger.
“It’s a nice position to be in.”