Paisley Park Staying star retires after Cheltenham Festival contest

Paisley Park Staying star retires after Cheltenham Festival contest

Emma Lavelle’s beloved staying hurdler Paisley Park has been retired after finishing down the field in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The veteran has been a constant presence in staying hurdle events over the past few seasons, going unbeaten in the 2018-19 season when his campaign culminated in success in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

He has contested the race every season since, finishing third in 2021 and 2022, and alongside a superb record in that race he has three Long Walk Hurdles, three Cleeve Hurdles and a Long Distance Hurdle to his name.

Those victories, amongst 11 on his CV, make him one of the best and most consistent figures in the division and this season he showed he retained plenty of his ability when finishing second by the narrowest of distances in the Long Distance, the Long Walk and the Cleeve.

He lined up as a 14-1 chance in the Stayers’ Hurdle this time around but could only finish 10th, prompting connections to announce his immediate retirement after a stellar career for his loving owner Andrew Gemmell, who was born blind.

Lavelle said: “We have an awful lot to thank him for, we really do.

“I don’t know what is next for him, Andrew would like to keep him in his garden! He’d need to do something, but he’s the sort of horse who will do anything and he’s such a good ride.

“It’s definitely the right thing to do, we said this season would be on a race-by-race basis but he kept running his heart out, it was just a shame he couldn’t get his head in front for one last time.

“Today was the big test and he doesn’t have the same pace that he used to, that turbo button is missing and based on that, Andrew had a discussion as we crossed the line and as he’s done so much for us, he doesn’t need to do any more.

“It’s so emotional because he has done so much for us.”

Gemmell said: “That first win here when he made a ricket at the last and still won has to be my favourite memory.

“We’re retiring him, it was a great race and a great career but it’s time. It’s the right thing to do. He’s been marvellous.”

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