Paisley Park returned to winning ways with a power-packed finish to catch Thyme Hill in the dying strides of the Porsche Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
Emma Lavelle’s 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner looked beaten turning for home as he got caught out of his ground leaving the back straight.
At the head of affairs, Thyme Hill and Roksana were still apparently going powerfully, and Paisley Park looked to need a minor miracle.
On jumping the last Aidan Coleman went into overdrive, but still seemed to have a mountain to climb – with Thyme Hill, who had seen off Roksana, looking sure to collect.
But Paisley Park (9-4), who is well known for his strong finishes, picked up impressively in the testing conditions to win by a neck.
The result is even more meritorious, considering Paisley Park was found to be suffering from a fibrillating heart when he was beaten at Cheltenham in March.
The eight-year-old is now 7-2 favourite to regain his Cheltenham crown too at the Festival with Betfair.
Lavelle said: “I think I’m more concerned about my heart now than his!
“I can’t wait to get home and watch the race, because it looked a good one, but I had my eyes on him the whole way – wondering if he was going to get there.
“I never thought he was beaten, just because I know what he is like, and then the turbo kicked in – which is quite apt, given the race was sponsored by Porsche this year.
“It looks like his heart problem has cleared up. We’ve had no cause for concerns, and it seems to be functioning well at the minute – it hasn’t frightened him, which was the key thing.
“He’s cheeky because he pricked his ears on crossing the line as if to say ‘I’ve done that now, thanks’ – he’s a special horse.
“We love horses that come back – they are great for racing and really help sell it.
“If he’s fine and well there’s the option of going to the Cleeve if we think we have to. We’ll see closer to the time, before running in March.”