How Paisley Park sealed his come-back with a jaw-dropping win. What's next?
With an astonishing late run, perfectly timed by jockey Aidan Coleman, Paisley Park came 'from almost nowhere' to win the £100,000 Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on November 24.
Paisley Park is owned by Andrew Gemmell and trained at Ogbourne Maizey by Emma Lavelle - it was her most valuable win: "it really was a great day".
As the Racing Post analyst put it - in analyst's language: "Paisley Park, 7lb higher than when winning on his first outing of this campaign almost a month previously [Racing UK Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Aintree, October 28], looked held as the field came down the final straight but he really motored from the last and picked off the two in front of him close to the line."
Emma Lavelle: "Paisley Park was always sitting just a little bit behind the bridle and in a way, Aidan said, that's won him the race as he still had plenty left in the tank at the finish. It was a fair performance carrying top weight and he's getting better and better."
He came out of his Haydock race 'in great form'. Andrew Gemmell's plan has been to run him in Ascot's Long Walk (Saturday, December 22) - and that is where he has now been entered. (It's the Grade 1 three mile JLT Hurdle - Registered as the The Long Walk Hurdle).
As a training and a riding achievement that was something to get very excited about. You can see here how Aidan Coleman brought him home to win by half a length from Shades of Midnight.
However the backstory is simply extraordinary.
The owner of the six year-old gelding by Oscar out of Presenting Shares, 66 year-old Andrew Gemmell, has been blind since birth. He was simply delighted with the victory. He told Racing Post: "This is my first proper winner on my own and I just can't believe it. I got into racing as a kid, listening to it on television and have loved it ever since. It's interesting listening to a race you're involved in - to say the least - and I was shocked he came and got there at the end."
He has been involved in syndicates in the past and is joint owner with Nick Mustoe of an as yet un-named filly by Robin des Champs and also has a share in Vendredi Trois - both trained by Emma Lavelle.
Andrew Gemmell also owns Angel Islington - a three year-old grey filly by Dark Angel in training for Flat racing with Andrew Balding. On her sixth outing, she came in third on the all weather at Lingfield on December 5 under Jason Watson.
However the backstory does not just involve owner, trainer and jockey - it is also about veterinary care. Paisley Park came a good second on his debut in a bumper at Warwick in January 2017, but arrived back at the yard very sick indeed. At one point the vet thought his stomach condition could not be cured. But the vets overcame the problem - albeit leading to a 336-day break from racing.
He came back to the yard a year ago, Emma Lavelle told Racing Post, "...looking all skin and bones. " After racing well last season "...he's done so well physically and mentally since then, looking a big, strong horse now he's a year into his recovery."
Watch out for those Andrew Gemmell colours..........