Paisley Park wins the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham

Paisley Park ridden by Aidan Coleman on their way to vcitory in the Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Image: Paisley Park

Paisley Park produced a high-class display to land the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham for trainer Emma Lavelle.

The son of Oscar is now four from four this season having landed his first Grade-One success when winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month.

The Cleeve was expected to offer a sterner test of his credentials but he passed it with flying colours, overcoming a troubled passage to come through and win by 12 lengths from old foe West Approach.

On his return to hurdles, Black Op ran well back in third.

The winner returned the 10/3 favourite and Sky Bet reacted to his commanding success by making him their 7/2 second favourite for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Lavelle said: "That was quite impressive. He just has such a great way of going in that he doesn't use any more energy than he needs to and then when Aidan winds him up, he just picks up.

"Aidan said he got there two furlongs two soon. The last hurdle today is the first hurdle he has jumped in front in his life as he gets a lead at home as well.

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"He looked pretty special out there. I hope we have the same preparation for Cheltenham in March as we had for this race."

Paisley Park was cut to a best priced 7-2 favourite for the Stayers' Hurdle on March 14, with last year's winner - the Willie Mullins-trained Penhill - next best at around 5-1.

Lavelle added: "He's getting a bit more streetwise and full credit to my husband. Barry (Fenton) rides him every day and he said after his last piece of work on the grass you can just jump off and drop your hands on him and he knows how to do the work, whereas before you were educating him.

"We wanted to bring him here today to give him the experience of the track. When he ran here in the Albert Bartlett it was a complete non-event for him, but you always worry it could be the track.

"However, he is pretty straightforward and well balanced and a nice horse to deal with, so you hoped it was just one of those things.

"He has achieved what nothing else has in nearly 21 years for us which is win a Grade One, so he is very important.

"I think he is genuinely, for the moment, a trainer's dream. All we have to do is bring him here in the same form in March."

Tom George was pleased with the performance of Black Op, who was running over hurdles for the first time this season after failing to convince in the jumping department twice over fences.

George said: "He ran a very solid race. It was probably his first proper race since he won at Aintree last April as over fences he made mistakes.

"Noel (Fehily) said he will come on a bit. It was an end-to-end gallop and a proper race.

"I don't think there is much to go for now until Cheltenham.

"We've got to improve a bit and whether we'll improve enough I don't know, but he likes the spring ground so that will help."

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