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CHELTENHAM PREVIEW: How do I get to Ogbourne Maizey? Where? Bonita Racing Stables? Oh, just ask for Paisley Park

The Emma Lavelle Racing stables - aka Bonita Racing Stables and currently Ogbourne Maizey's main attraction - have had dozens of visitors over the past few weeks.


They've all come to make videos, take photos and write about one horse:  Paisley Park.


Emma Lavelle by the all weather gallop with the bet365 camera crewEmma Lavelle by the all weather gallop with the bet365 camera crewPaisley Park is a seven year-old gelding by Oscar out of Presenting Shares.  With four wins out of four runs this season,  he is well fancied for the Cheltenham Festival's Stayers' Hurdle - one of the great races of the jumps season.


Barry Fenton with Paisley ParkBarry Fenton with Paisley ParkHis win at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle gave his owner Andrew Gemell, trainer Emma Lavelle and jockey Aidan Coleman their first Grade One winner.


The Festival is next week.  And we now know he will not mind the dreaded Cheltenham hill as he won there in the Cleeve Hurdle in January by twelve lengths - a famous victory and again under Coleman.


However, looking at the acres of print and hours of video time, it is sometimes difficult to know whether the story is the horse (he was so sick he nearly died - and recovered to win) or his owner, Andrew Gemell (who has been blind since birth and is a sports fan and racing fan without equal) - or whether it is simply a unique combination of a great racing tale and an amazing human story.


They have not only come to talk to Emma Lavelle and see the horse and sometimes meet Andrew Gemell there, but they have also been to see Paisley Park's owner in London.  And, yes, the horse is named after pop star Prince's home estate - he was one of Gemell's favourites.


When Andrew Gemmell was taken out to lunch in a north London pub by racing journalist Chris Cook of The Observer, he admitted to "...feeling really nervous. You're excited to have horse in a big race, but when you've got the favourite, it puts extra pressure on you.  I'm really optimistic, but I'm also bracing myself for disappointment." happened to be at the stables the day a video crew from bet365 came to record their preview.  They were making four Cheltenham  previews - one each from stables in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.

Looking down...Looking down... the second lot exercise on the sand the second lot exercise on the sand ring

Paisley Park was their choice for the England leg of their series of video shorts - as the crew's director said: "We couldn't really go anywhere else - it's just such a great story."


Emma Lavelle did more perfect walking shots in front of the camera than many a seasoned political reporter:  "He's a cool dude - he'll go left or right handed, undulating or flat tracks, any sort of ground..."   Her husband, Barry Fenton, who nursed Paisley Park back to form on the gallops, explained his abilities.  And Andrew Gemmell arrived to join the fun.


A short version of the result can be seen via Twitter here.  It really is worth a look.


If I was at Cheltenham for Paisley Park's big race, I would not be watching the race as much as the owner as he stands in the paddock his back to the big screen - listening.

Emma Lavelle with Andrew GemellEmma Lavelle with Andrew Gemell

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