Paisley Park moved himself back into contention for the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (Paisley Park 8/1 Outright) after winning his third successive Cleeve Hurdle in dramatic fashion.
Emma Lavelle’s gelding had not won since Ascot in 2020, and he missed the start of Saturday’s race, giving the other four runners a huge advantage.
Paisley Park, the winner of the Cleeve Hurdle in 2019 and 2020, was kept in the race by Aidan Coleman, and even though he appeared to struggle down the back straight, he powered home to beat Champ.
Lavelle’s charge is now back among the contenders for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Champ now the second favourite at 5/1 after his defeat.
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The most impressive winner on Saturday was Gordon Elliott’s Pied Piper, who won the JCB Triumph Trial at a canter.
Elliott’s charge went into the race as the favourite following his recent success at Punchestown, but he blew the rest of the field away, winning by nine lengths ahead of Moka De Vassy.
Like Paisley Park, Chantry House got his career back on track as he booked his place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after winning the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.
Nicky Henderson’s runner had failed to impress at Kempton on Boxing Day, and he showed signs of sloppiness during Saturday’s race. Former stablemate Santini pushed him all the way, but Henderson was delighted to give owner JP McManus his 4,000th winner.
Alan King’s North Lodge won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 15:40, while Torn And Frayed won the Grade 3 Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase.
Imperial Alcazar, Cormier and Mullenbeg were also victorious at Prestbury Park on Saturday afternoon.
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