Paisley Park To Head Straight To Cheltenham

Paisley Park

Leading Stayers' Hurdle contender Paisley Park will not run at Wetherby in the rescheduled Cleeve Hurdle this weekend and will instead take a direct route to the Cheltenham festival.

Paisley Park showed he is back to his best this season after a superb second behind the young pretender Thyme Hill in the Grade Two Long Distance Cup at Newbury on his seasonal debut and then backed that up by reversing the form in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle.

The eight year old at the Cheltenham festival last season was looking to extend his unbeaten run to eight races and also land back to back renewals of the Stayers Hurdle having been the horse to beat in they Stayers' Hurdle division, but it was not to be for the fan favourite.

After the race it was found that the son of Oscar had come back with an irregular heartbeat that was certainly the cause of his underwhelming run in the Grade One he dominated last season.

Now, the Andrew Gemmell owned horse is said to be back to his best having been given the all clear from the vets and the frequent winner has been wearing a heart monitor in pieces of his work at home and the problem has not resurfaced.

Although the gelding was taking on much younger horses on his return in November and giving weight away he still ran to a high standard.

He cemented the idea that his run in the 2020 Stayers' Hurdle was a blip when coming from the clouds to land his second Grade One Long Walk Hurdle last time out, reversing the form with Thyme Hill in the final stages.

It was one of the races of the season so far and one of the performances of the term by Paisley Park and his trainer Emma Lavelle was set to race him one more time before going to Prestbury Park, but with the ground conditions at Wetherby set to be extremely testing, the yard have changed their mind and will send him straight to the festival.

(Credit ATR) “On balancing up on what makes sense and what doesn’t, I just don’t think it makes sense to go up there and run on what will be incredibly testing ground,” said Lavelle.

“Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t as though Cheltenham wasn’t going to be testing (before it was abandoned last Saturday), but there were other reasons for wanting to go to Cheltenham.

“It would have been experience back there, having had his heart fibrillation (after last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle).

“We said if it was on we’d go (to Cheltenham). We’d have gone to Wincanton (if the race had been re-scheduled there on Thursday), but it was dubious if that was going to be on.”

Lavelle added: “We had a good discussion about it, and we all think it was the right decision to make.

“We’ll take him for a racecourse gallop somewhere to make him feel like he’s been to the races.

“It’s just frustrating. He’s mature, and we want to be going to the races with him, but there’s also a balance about going to the races with him and not bottoming him at this stage.

“What I think it will mean is it will extend our (options) hopefully the other end. I would hope we would then go on to Punchestown, Aintree or whatever.”

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