Paisley Park all set for Cheltenham return
Former Stayers’ Hurdle hero bidding to back up thrilling Long Walk success.
Star staying hurdler Paisley Park is among nine entries for Saturday’s Paddy Power Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Emma Lavelle’s stalwart got back to winning ways last time out in a thrilling finish with Thyme Hill in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
Philip Hobbs has not entered his charge this time around, but the Ascot form was boosted at the weekend when Roksana, who was third, was an easy winner.
“On paper it might not look as tough as the Long Walk, that’s true, and he’s in great order,” said Lavelle.
“What will be nice will be to go back to Cheltenham and have a nice experience after what happened at the Festival last year.
“While I’m glad there’s not going to be a massive field, I want him to have a nice experience. I certainly wouldn’t say it looks easy, though – all races at this level are difficult.
“We’ll be giving weight away, but he seems in great order and the timing of this race is absolutely perfect as we can let him down a bit after it.
“Obviously the ground looks like being testing, but we can’t do much about that. We’d love it if the forecast was a bit better and it wasn’t a real slog, but it is what it is. He loves racing, this horse.”
Harry Fry’s veteran Unowhatimeanharry is among potential opponents, along with the David Pipe duo of Ramses De Teillee and Main Fact, who had his long winning run ended in the Long Walk.
Itchy Feet could return to hurdles for Olly Murphy, with Third Wind (Hughie Morrison) another possible.
Nicky Henderson’s Gold Cup runner-up Santini is among 10 contenders in the Paddy Power ’45 Sleeps To Cheltenham’ Cotswold Chase.
He has yet to win in two outings this season, at Aintree and when fifth in the King George VI Chase.
Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados, fourth in the King George, rates as a serious danger as does Bristol De Mai, fresh from this third win in the Betfair Chase.
One who could be out again quickly is Paul Nicholls’ Yala Enki, who only won at Taunton on Saturday.
“If it poured with rain on Thursday and Friday I would be kicking myself if I hadn’t put him in the race, though it is a tentative entry,” said Nicholls.
“He is hard to place off his mark of 161 and has not got any kind of penalty in this race.
“Some of the others that are going to run in the Gold Cup might not want a slog at this stage round Cheltenham, so it could cut up.”
Rehearsal Chase winner Yorkhill, David Bridgwater’s The Conditional and a previous Gold Cup winner in Native River (Colin Tizzard) are among the entries.
Nicky Martin’s Bear Ghylls is among 14 in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, with Lecale’s Article and Wilde About Oscar in the mix.
The Pipe-trained Adagio, already a Grade One winner this season, is one of 15 in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle along with Gary Moore’s Nassalam, who was second to him at Chepstow.
Heross Du Seuil, Honneur D’Ajonc and Sage Advice ensure plenty of strength in depth.
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