Paisley Park rolled back the years with a brilliant performance at the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham to set the stage for a potential challenge in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Emma Lavelle’s charge won the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019 with a brilliant performance to confirm his dominance of the National Hunt over three-miles in the 2018/19 campaign where he won all five of his races.
His imperious form continued in the early stages of the following season, and Paisley Park was established as the odds-on favourite in the Stayers’ Hurdle in a bid to become the first horse to win successive titles since Big Buck’s. However, he put forward one of the worst performances of his career to lose his crown to the 50/1 outsider Lisnagar Oscar, and has endured a fall from grace since.
The Irish throughbred has secured only two victories over the last two years, but the latter has improved his odds for the Stayers’ Hurdle, and by browsing the best Cheltenham betting offers there could be value to be found by wagering on Paisley Park to triumph at odds in the region of 7/1. By using a free bet you could mitigate any potential losses on the Stayers’ Hurdle, but Paisley Park is more than a solid shout and the race has been anything other than predictable in recent seasons. It would not be a surprise to see Paisley Park rally with one last great effort to etch his name in the history of the race.
Lavelle’s charge did put in a solid performance at Cheltenham last season in the Stayers’ Hurdle, but he could not match the pace of Flooring Porter down the stretch, finishing in a respectable third. Unfortunately, Paisley Park followed up his impressive display with disappointment as Aidan Coleman was forced to pull up his charge at the Liverpool Hurdle one month later.
If Lavelle was hopeful of an improvement at the start of the new campaign, she was to be disappointed as Paisley Park failed to rise to the occasion in the West Yorkshire Hurdle by placing third. Further underwhelming outings were to follow at the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, placing him right down in the reckoning in the minds of the bookies for the stretch run in the second half of the season.
As a 5/1 shout, Paisley Park rolled back the years in the Cleeve Hurdle, although it appeared that he might not race at all after being a reluctant starter. As a result, the 10-year-old was immediately off the pace and trailed the leading group by a significant distance. However, as he gained rhythm on the course, Coleman ushered him through the field and he was able to close the gap. Coleman then timed Paisley Park’s surge to the front to perfection and he displayed the clinical edge of a great champion to close out the victory by three-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of race favourite Champ.
One performance does not mean that Paisley Park is ready for a run back to relevance at Cheltenham Festival, and he will be facing quality horses in the form of Flooring Porter, Thyme Hill, Champ and Klassical Dream. The 10-year-old does have a special element in his DNA, and it would be a nice theme of the week to see him potentially bow out on the highest of notes.