I know there are those who get a bit sniffy about Stayers’ Hurdles, but I have always been a fan. However, I have to accept it is a division that is currently lacking big names and looks short on talent. Maybe, just maybe, that might be about to change with the emergence of Paisley Park who won the Long Walk at Ascot on Saturday.
It was a race of incidents. Last year’s winner, Sam Spinner, made it clear at the first hurdle that he was in no mood for jumping, which was confirmed with a statement of intent at the second, where Joe Colliver was unseated. 2016 winner, Unowhatimeanharry, fresh from victory in Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle looked for a while like he could continue to defy the years, but fell at the eighth.
At this stage and much like his impressive run at Haydock last month, Paisley Park hardly looked in the mix, but as in life, timing proved to be everything and when driven out after the last he won by two lengths from West Approach.
For the horse that was last of the thirteen finishers in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March, it’s now three from three this season. The first two came off top weight in Handicaps and the win at Haydock where he stole victory on the line after a bursting final furlong run, was as thrilling a finish as you could wish to witness.
As well as being an exciting horse to watch, there’s the back story with Saturday’s win providing trainer, Emma Lavelle, and jockey, Aidan Coleman with their first Grade 1 triumphs. I maybe guilty of supporting a horse primarily because I want to see three mile hurdles lit up by a new kid on the block, but 14/1 for the Stayers’ at Cheltenham has got to be tempting.