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Paisley Park receives a well-deserved slap from a delighted Aidan Coleman after landing a third Cleeve Hurdle
By Lewis Porteous
Aidan Coleman has hailed Paisley Park a “champion” after the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle hero went from last to first to claim a spectacular third success in the Welsh Marches Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle.
Now ten years old, Paisley Park gave the opposition a huge head start after nearly not consenting to leave, sacrificing up to 15 lengths to rivals as he momentarily planted before eventually overtaking all four in the closing stages to save a heartwarming victory.
Although ITV pundit Ruby Walsh said he would have returned to the paddock after watching Paisley Park drop anchor, Aidan Coleman picked up the slack and set off in pursuit of his rivals.
Slowly recovering from the deficit, he was pretty much back in contention at the top of the hill and looking home he started targeting Lisnagar Oscar, Champ and McFabulous.
Members can watch the replay here
Closing in on the leaders after the penultimate, he jumped ahead at the final hurdle before sprinting away from champion favorite Stayers’ Hurdle to record a brilliant, but bizarre, victory in a big race.
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Paisley Park clears a hurdle on its way to an unlikely win at Cheltenham
“He’s got that in him,” Coleman said. “He almost did it several times and eagle-eyed viewers will have seen it. Just before the tape played, I gave him a yank and a belt to his neck to say ‘cop, I know what you think” and he did it again.
“It’s really special. The longevity of this horse is a testament to his ability and character. He gets all the applause. I literally threw the loop at him after he went to the first one and said ‘if you want to get in there ‘ , you do. I’m not doing anything, you’ve already pissed me off so you fix it”.
“I said to Paddy Brennan at the top of the hill – ‘I’m still in it even though I whipped’. He’s just different around this track and no matter what happened before or after, it’s is very special for a multitude of reasons, mainly because of his degree of champion.”
Ruby Walsh: ‘It’s lucky Aidan Coleman was riding because I would have given up’
Coral now moves to 8-1 (from 33) for Paisley Park to reclaim the crown from Stayers’ Hurdle, with Champ at 5-1 (from 11-4) for the same run. Last year’s winner, Flooring Porter, now leads the bets with an overall score of 7-2.
Walsh, who won the Stayers’ Hurdle five times during a glittering career in the saddle, including four times with the mighty Big Buck’s, told ITV viewers that in the situation Coleman found himself in at the start ” you give up and come back in the parade ring – he’s now running in a race he can’t win,” but raised his hands after the race.
He added: “Fair play to Aidan Coleman. It’s lucky Aidan Coleman is driving it and not Ruby Walsh because I would have given up but, hey, it just shows you should never give up.”
John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
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Paisley Park (left) battles with Champ after the final hurdle
John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
After thrilling crowds, Paisley Park, owned by Andrew Gemmell, was given a hero’s welcome as it returned to the winners’ enclosure and coach Emma Lavelle likened the reception to the festival itself.
She said: “It felt like the festival with that kind of noise and the cheering. It means so much that people embraced it the way they did, and I tried to convey that to everyone there. We are so lucky to have him.
“I just said ‘thank you’, their support means so much. If there’s ever a horse to climb it’s probably him. , he put his head down and it was really the right Paisley. We didn’t have Seen that for a while. It was awesome.”
All roads lead to the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and a likely rematch with Champ for the winner, although Lavelle admitted Paisley Park would not be able to give up the same amount of ground at the start of the big game in March.
“With only five riders today, it gave a bit more leeway for this maneuver,” said the coach. “You’re not going to have five riders at the Stayers and under those circumstances I imagine he’ll have it in and around the horses and just jump with them.
“It was never a problem, but it’s something you always imagined that could hide. Aidan was ready for it, but I don’t think he expected it the way it was. passed and I think he’ll be even more ready for it next time.”
Paying a heartfelt tribute to her stable star, she added: “It’s been an amazing journey and what he’s done for us is immeasurable. He loves to test you along the way, but we owe him so much.”
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