Champion staying hurdler Paisley Park passed a key stage in his preparation towards his return to action at Newbury this month by taking part in a gallop before racing over the track on Thursday.
Last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle winner covered two miles under Barry Fenton, husband of his trainer Emma Lavelle, in a workout with stablemate Hawk’s Well.
Lavelle brought Paisley Park to Newbury to get him ready for the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, to be run on the first day of the two day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, and was delighted with the exercise.
She said: “That was just perfect. They went steady down the far side and Barry said he wasn’t doing a tap sitting in behind so he had to bring him upsides. He quickened up in the final mile, did everything he needed to do and was still tanking at the end.
“As much as anything today was about getting him away to have a sweat which will bring him on. In the paddock to start with he was so on his toes. To be able to bring him here to calm it all back down again was brilliant.
“He took a breath in the paddock, settled down and was so professional out on the track. He is a big unit now which was why we needed to do this today.”
Despite Paisley Park being no bigger than 5-2 to defend his Stayers’ Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Ogbourne Maizey handler does not feel any additional pressure on her shoulders.
Watch Paisley Park's Newbury workout
She added: “In the build up to it all last season, it created momentum of its own and there was pressure there and that was something we had not been involved in before.
“He suddenly became more than just our property and there was a lot of pressure in that. It was really enjoyable pressure and it was something we came to terms with.
“He is proven now so I don’t know if that makes it more pressure or less pressure in a way, as he is the good horse. We just hope it keeps rolling as he is extraordinary. ”
Although Paisley Park did not race beyond the Cheltenham Festival last season, a trip to Ireland to contest the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown is very much on the cards this campaign.
Lavelle said: “We will come back here for the race on the 29th then go to Ascot (Long Walk), then go to the Cleeve, then back for the Stayers’ and then hopefully go to Punchestown. That’s the dream let’s just see if we can get there.
“Last season we were one run early if you like before Ascot last season. This season we have done it all a bit differently. We have brought him in a bit later to set him up for lasting a bit longer.
“Ultimately he is Andrew’s (Gemmell, owner) horse and we are just guiding him. He is mad keen to go to Punchestown for everything it stands for.”
With Paisley Park confirming himself as the best staying hurdler in training last season, Lavelle confirmed she has no intention of switching her stable star to chasing any time soon.
She added: “I’m the biggest fan of Oscar’s (progeny), but when you look through, the majority of them are better hurdlers than they are chasers, even though they look like they should be.
“He is very good at what he does, so why change it? If you can win these races and prizes until you stop doing that, we will keep on doing what we are doing.”
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