Three Horses To Take A Note Of This Weekend

Paisley Park

Paisley Park is back in action this weekend as he heads into the Cleeve Hurdle again before the festival and hopefully he can reproduce his heroics of last season with him already 11/8 to land the Grade One at Prestbury Park.

He 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 on his second start when he landed the Grade Three 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 One 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 fairy-tale moments of the 2019 Cheltenham festival.

Now a fan favourite, many punters were very apprehensive about where he would start off his campaign this season with the big aim again being to defend his Stayers Hurdle title.

He started this season in the same form as last term by extending his unbeaten run to six races after seeing off some top horses including Thistlecrack when landing the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Santini

Another star returning this weekend is Nicky Henderson's Santini and this eight year old has been nurtured over the last few season and is being tuned up in the lead up to the festival.

He has previous at Cheltenham winning at the meeting back in 2018 in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle and at both festivals since then has been a very unlucky loser in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle and RSA Chase last year.

He has only been seen once this season with at the start of the term he was a strong fancy for the Gold Cup but off the back of his seasonal bow he drifted in the market.

The eight year old went to Kempton in November for the Listed Intermediate Chase eventually doing enough to land the contest but made very hard work of it in a weak field of runners.

He should be much sharper, fitter and stronger after a small break and knowing he performs well at Prestbury Park it gives him a huge opportunity to enhance his Gold Cup credentials.

Sporting John

The final runner from Saturday that is worth a mention is Sporting John for Philip Hobbs who holds some of the best form credentials from his races this season.

He is currently 6/4 favourite for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle on Saturday and if he runs he surely has to be the one to beat off the back of what he has done this season.

The five year old is unbeaten on all three of his career starts winning a point to point in March last year and was bought by JP McManus off the back of that.

This season he has ran twice, with both his runs coming at Exeter in Novices Hurdle events and on his first start in November he went on to beat a field of 13 with the second, third, fourth and fifth all going on to win since.

He was workmanlike again on his latest start and now been stepped up into this company should bring more improvement from him.

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