Paisley Park gives owner, trainer and jockey a Grade 1 Christmas present at Ascot
Then we changed it to a Horse Profile feature - currently featuring Paisley Park on the strength of his amazing recent victory at Haydock.Marlboroughequestrian.news used to have a Horse in the Spotlight feature.
However on Saturday at Ascot, Andrew Gemmell's 6-year-old gelding definitely took his place in the racing spotlight - winning the Grade 1 three-mile JLT Hurdle (Registered as the Long Walk Hurdle) - with Aidan Coleman aboard. A win that gave both Coleman and Paisley Park's trainer, Emma Lavelle, their first Grade 1 wins.
Even the front page of the Racing Post previewed its coverage of the race with the excited tag-line: "High emotions at Ascot as Paisley Park provides Lavelle and Coleman with maiden Grade 1 success in Long Walk Hurdle."
It was a race full of incident. Two previous winners came to grief. Sam Spinner unseated jockey Joe Colliver at the second hurdle. His attempt to clear the first hurdle was eccentric and gave Colliver a scare, but the second hurdle seemed to be just too much for him. It was said the sun put him off.
And Uknowhatimeanharry - who won the race in 2016 - came down at the same hurdle on the second circuit - giving jockey Barry Geraghty a crashing fall. Both horses were fine and Uknowhatimeanharry took a route home over some of the chase jumps - just for the fun of it.
It was also a first Grade 1 win for Paisley Park's owner, Andrew Gemmell. As Emma Lvelle explained, he had a plan: handicaps at Aintree and Haydock, then the Long Walk at Ascot - followed by Cheltenham Festival's Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle. So far Paisley Park is unbeaten in that plan and as of today is quoted at 16-1 for the Cheltenham Festival race.
Emma Lavelle told Racing Post: "It couldn't happen to a nicer person than Andrerw. whom is such a massive supporter of racing. He wasn't dealt the kindest hand at the beginning, but he has made the most out of his life. He was the one who wanted to go to Haydock and then here. I just did what I was told."
"Andrew doesn't normally ring me before he has a runner, but he rang me at seven o'clock this morning asking if the horse was all right."
"I told him he was like my husband. Barry rides this horse very day at home. He went to check on him at eleven o'clock last night as he wanted to be sure he wasn't too hot or too cold. Then he opened his window at five o'clock this morning. This horse is his absolute pride and joy."
And if you are thinking of backing Paisley Park for Cheltenham, Aidan Coleman told The Observer: "He's just a proper good horse that you don't know you're sitting on until you go to pick him up, and when you do he's always there for you."
Coleman, who is not fair off a thousand winners in his professional career, said he was bit embarrassed not to have achieved a Grade 1 win: "It's taken me too long, but it meant a lot to do it now."
There are going to be big celebrations at Bonita Racing Stables in Ogbourne Maizey on Monday morning. Emma Lavelle was asked by Racing TV whether the yard still gave staff donuts after a win: "There's always donuts after a win - but in fairness after he won at Haydock we had sausage and bacon sandwiches and donuts - so we were definitely upgrading. I'll say that come Monday I'm sure there'll be sausages, bacon, champagne - whatever you want - it'll be a free for all!"
On a more serious note, Emma Lavelle Tweeted: "Thank you Paisley Park and Aidan Coleman for making Christmas come early at Ascot today. Well done to Aidan - a milestone for us both - and of course thank you to all who so importantly make things tick back home - Team Lavelle."