Tom Bellamy will be keeping the saddle warm for suspended Aidan Coleman when Paisley Park lines up in his bid to win a third Howden Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
The nine-year-old gave trainer Emma Lavelle the biggest win of her career to date when powering home to land the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle under Coleman, who has partnered Paisley Park in his last 14 starts.
Coleman was handed a seven-day suspension and a £1,550 fine for overuse of the whip aboard Becher Chase winner Snow Leopardess at Aintree last Saturday.
The timing “is not ideal” according to Paisley Park’s owner, Andrew Gemmell, who said: “The stewards deemed to give Aidan a week. It seems a bit stiff.
“It is not ideal, but Tom has been riding very well and Aidan’s had lots of conversations with him, so I’m sure he will be fine.
“I would think that, long-term, he is still Aidan’s ride, for sure.”
Paisley Park will run minus the cheekpieces in the Grade One event, as Lavelle felt he slightly overraced when an 11-length third behind Thomas Darby in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.
The trainer has been toying with the idea of going chasing with Paisley Park, although a dry autumn may have put that option on the back burner.
Gemmell said: “While the rains have now come, in terms of going chasing, it is now very late in the season. Obviously, Saturday is important to see how he is progressing. It is a very strong field and let’s hope he puts his best foot forward. We’re hoping to win!
“At the moment, I would have to say that the Stayers’ Hurdle will be the plan of attack. Ascot on Saturday, then the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, followed by the Stayers’ Hurdle is the most likely route forward.
“I think that cancelling the Cleeve Hurdle last year cost us in the Stayers’ Hurdle, as he was perhaps a little short, so it would be nice if they did run it this time.”
Speaking to Sky Sports Racing on Monday, Bellamy said he was “on cloud nine” after the “massive opportunity” to partner Paisley Park.
He added: “I’ve had a few goes on him since Aidan’s news came out – I hadn’t before that – I’ve ridden a piece of work on him and schooled him.
“He wouldn’t set the world alight at home – he’s a staying hurdler, of course he wouldn’t. But at the same time he struts about like he’s got a bit of class and he’s enjoyable to ride.”