Gemmell eyeing Ascot and Cheltenham targets for Paisley Park

Popular staying hurdler Paisley Park will stay in training next season with the Long Walk and Cleeve Hurdles the aim, according to his owner Andrew Gemmell.

Thoughts of going novice chasing were put on hold last season because of the dry autumn, with the now 10-year-old preferring softer ground.

However, there are no plans to put him over fences going forward, as connections feel he retains plenty of ability and enthusiasm over hurdles.

Winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019, the Emma Lavelle-trained gelded son of Oscar finished third in the Grade One Long Walk at Ascot in December, bidding to win the race for a third time following victories in 2018 and 2020.

Paisley Park then won the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham for the third time before running a close-up third to Flooring Porter in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Although a well-held fifth to Klassical Dream in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at Punchestown, Gemmell feels there were excuses for the horse that has won over £600,000 in prize money.

Currently recovering after having a pacemaker fitted recently, Gemmell said: “I think what Ruby (Walsh) said before the race was right – there proved to be no pace in the race.

“He stayed on again, but I think the ground was plenty quick enough as well.

“Given the conditions, he still ran really well.

“He still retains plenty of enthusiasm, so we will keep going. Though he is hard to place and needs soft ground, I still think races like the Long Walk and the Cleeve are there, so we will see how we go. I would love to win the Cleeve again – that would be great!

“You can’t fault his run in the Stayers’, either. He was only beaten two and three-quarter lengths (in third).

“He is fine and has just gone out into the field now.”

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