Countdown to Cheltenham: Paisley Park primed for Stayers’ Hurdle


mma Lavelle says Paisley Park is raring to go ahead of his bid to recapture his Stayers’ Hurdle crown. 

Keeping her stable star sound has been Lavelle’s main priority, with the nine-year-old having been found to have a heart issue after a disappointing run in last year’s renewal. However, he has bounced back to form this season, winning the Grade 1 Long Walk at Ascot last time out. 

“Everything is absolutely great – I wish it was next week,” Lavelle said. “We just want to try and keep everything right. I’m really, really happy with him.”

Imperial Aura leading Bailey charge 

Kim Bailey, meanwhile, says his small but select team, including Clarence House winner First Flow in the Champion Chase and Ultima Handicap Chase favourite Happygolucky, is “undoubtedly the strongest” he has ever taken to the Festival. 

However, it is Imperial Aura in the Ryanair that he rates as his best chance, despite the horse unseating after an uncharacteristic jumping error on his most recent start at Kempton. 

“He’s a good jumper, and I’m convinced something took his eye off the fence,” Bailey said. “I’m very thankful it happened there – and hopefully it won’t happen at Cheltenham.

“He worked very well this morning, and schooled very well.”

Pipe hoping Adagio can topple stacked Triumph field

David Pipe was another of the trainers providing the latest lowdown on their Festival teams yesterday.

Pipe says Triumph Hurdle contender Adagio is his best chance of a winner at the meeting, despite a bout of colic affecting the Grade 1 winner after his last run.

“It’s always a concern at the time but since then everything has gone well,” Pipe said.

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