I'm just living the dream after Paisley Park’s victory in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival today.
I couldn't see him getting beat all week - I honestly couldn't - and I arrived at the course quite relaxed. Victory wasn't a formality, you have to give every race the respect it deserves, but I didn't think that there would be that much relief when I crossed the line because I was really sweet and confident coming here. It was fairly emotional.
Andrew Gemmell (the owner) is a massive sports enthusiast and an ultimate gentleman, win lose or draw.
He just a terribly nice fellow and an absolute gentleman. He's a pleasure to be around, to be associated with and I am just very thankful and honoured to be able to give him this opportunity.
The race went as I expected it to go. Paisley Park is very generous off the bridle but, when he is sitting behind early on in the race, he likes to save a bit. It's a Stayers' Hurdle and that's what you need.
That's why, as soon as he hit the hill, I got there too soon again, which is why he made a mistake at the last.
It was his best round of jumping before the last. When I got here so soon in the Cleeve, he acclimatised to it and was eyeing it up from 15 strides back whereas today he was a bit closer before he copped that he was in front and it was just a bit of complacency.
We got over it and, when he landed, he went again. I knew that, as soon as I landed and gathered him up, he was off again and I knew that I would win.
Although you are pushing and niggling him away down the hill, it's not ideal, but it is ideal for him. It's his running style and he has shown this season that it suits him best.
Hitting the final hurdle wasn't ideal but we had to do something wrong, didn't we?
I thought for a second, 'oh, we're beat', but he just took a second and I gathered him again and we just took off.
That shows how good he is, how classy he is and how tough he is. Andrew is a great fella - the whole thing is just very special and I'm loving it.
I don't know what I was thinking coming here today, but I could not see Paisley Park getting beat. I have not really had these winners at the festivals so I thought I better calm down a bit and enjoy the day.
When I gave the saddle to Emma, she was super. She told me to enjoy myself and said, 'you know the horse so I am not going to tell you what to do'.
He is effective on any ground, he is relatively young and I am looking forward to riding him for a few more years to come.
It was a strange thing when I crossed the line because my first thought was when my best friend, Campbell Gillies, had his best day here a few years ago.
For whatever reason, when I passed the line, he was the first person I thought of. He was a great friend of mine and I just want his family to know that, although he died a few years ago now, he is always there in our hearts.
NATIVE RIVER THE ONE TO BEAT IN GOLD CUP:
The blue riband of the Jumps season, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, looks another cracker and I’d take Native River to be the first horse to win back-to-back Gold Cups since Best Mate in 2003.
I have long been in his camp and I thought, for a Gold Cup winner, he’d gone under the radar somewhat.
However, with doubts about some of his rivals and the ground sure to be testing, it looks like the punters have come for him and he could go off favourite now.
Native River has a good chance of following up his win in the Gold Cup last year
You can see why. He is very consistent and looks the safest option and he will be hard to peg back from the front.
My one ride on Friday is a good one – Dickie Diver, who runs in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
He is one of the favourites and is entitled to be. He was only beaten a head by Lisnagar Oscar at Chepstow in January and the winner subsequently went out and won a Grade Two by ten lengths.
I rode Dickie Diver on his next run, when he was long odds-on for his maiden hurdle, and he won like you would have expected him to that day.
He is obviously closely matched with Lisnagar Oscar and the two of them are near the head of the market for a reason.
The day kicks off with the JCB Triumph Hurdle, in which Sir Erec looks the one. He was a Listed winner on the Flat, when trained by Aidan O’Brien, and he is now with his son Joseph, who had his first Festival winner on Wednesday.
He has won both his starts in the style of a good one and is arguably the talking horse of the week.
The whole of Ireland can’t be wrong!
Ch’tibello represents the Dan and Harry Skelton trainer-and-brother team, who know how to win a Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle.
He looks like he has been trained for this and there’s been money for him too. Finally, I’d pick out Not Another Muddle in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase.
I rode him at Sandown in February, after a long lay-off, when we came third, and I said to Jamie Moore that he would win next time. He duly did, back at Sandown, and looks to have a great profile for this.
He is very unexposed and, given a bit of luck in running, he will have a great chance.
Aidan’s selections on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival:
Race 1 – Sir Erec
Race 2 – Ch’tibello
Race 3 – Dickie Diver
Race 4 – Native River
Race 5 - Ucello Conti
Race 6 – Not Another Muddle
Race 7 – Early Doors
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