Emma Lavelle has a plan for Paisley Park's new season - and lots of other exciting prospects
He has a place of honour in one of the stables' two new barns - and is as calm and cool as ever.You can't visit Emma Lavelle Racing's Bonita Stables in Ogbourne Maizey without saying hello to Paisley Park.
A few days before we visited, Emma Lavelle and her husband Barry Fenton had been at the McCoy Awards ceremony at Cheltenham racecourse. Paisley's owner Andrew Gemmell was there to receive the award for last season's best hurdler.
At the ceremony Gemmell spoke about the 'magic hour ' at the Cheltenham Festival with Bryony Frost's win in the Ryan Air Chase on Frodon and Aidan Coleman taking Gemmell's Paisley Park to win the Stayers' Hurdle: "I'll never have anything like this again. I think about it almost every day."
Now the core jumps season is upon us, what lies ahead for the seven year-old gelding Emma Lavelle calls "The horse of a lifetime"?
She told marlboroughequestrian.news that Paisley Park will start racing a month or so later than last year - which means the end target can be Punchestown.
The plan - worked out with the owner - is to start his season, after a racecourse gallop, at Newbury's Ladbrokes Winter Carnival in November. Then he will go to Ascot, Cheltenham Trials Day and so to the Festival.
He will again be partnered by Aidan Coleman - who had ridden him out the morning we were at the stables. Paisley Park was nursed back to health and success by the Bonita team - but especially by his morning wake-up call and daily rider Barry Fenton. And there's a wee hint that Coleman was lucky to get a turn riding him out!
Emma Lavelle has 70 horses in the yard - including six Flat racehorses. She is looking forward to the season with a bunch of new horses and new owners.
"One", she says, "to be excited about is Der Rasher Counter who we're aiming at the Ladbroke Trophy - he's on a good mark and will be a nice weight for that race." He was bred by Karina Casini of the Greenlands Farm Stud - just a few miles away from Bonita Stables at Lockeridge.
Der Rasher Counter (owned, you've got to believe it, by the Makin' Bacon Partnership) started point-to-pointing in Ireland and then won a bumper at Clonmel. He first raced when under Emma Lavelle's care in October 2017 and has since won twice - taking a two-mile-and-six-and-a-half furlong handicap chase at Newbury at the end of December 2018.
Six year-old Down the Highway is in 'very good order' and will go over fences this year. Fontsanta - another six year-old - will go novice chasing. He won his first bumper in January 2018 at Fontwell, going on to win a Novice Hurdle at Hereford in March this year.
Names to look out for in the novice hurdle class will be Killer Clown (a four year-old Getaway gelding) and Thunderstruck (a four year-old Fame and Glory gelding).
Then there are some promising looking newbies - mainly coming over from their Irish point-to-point starts and the sales: Éclair Surf ('impressive' winner of a three miler at Bandon), Hang in There (a son of Yeats, just beaten in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in April) and Thoor Castle (one of two horses sent to Emma Lavelle Racing for this season by prolific and successful owner Trevor Hemmings.)
As to jockeys - Adam Wedge will get 'first dibs' as and when he is available. With Aidan Coleman and Leighton Aspell very much in the frame.
Riding out recently at Bonita Stables has been conditional jockey Ben Jones, who is close to losing his seven pounds. He has been riding for Welsh trainers and is based with Philip Hobbs in Somerset.
In addition a full time member of the Bonita team, work rider Henry Platt has just taken out his licence as a conditional.
"It is", says Emma Lavelle, "busy - lots of horses and exciting prospects." And she is very pleased with two recent wins: Misty Bloom ("She's a real toughie - and a sweet filly") at Warwick (September 23) and at Southwell today
(October 1) Manofthemountain showed off his jumping skills on some sticky ground ("He's a great prospect").