By Andrew Atkinson
Cheltenham Festival is a place of fairytales and if Paisley Park (3.30) wins the Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle over 3 miles on Thursday it will be a fairytale come true.
“Paisley Park should be there or thereabouts,” said owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth.
Gemmell, a huge sports and music fan, paid £60,000 for Paisley Park, trained by Emma Lavelle and ridden by Aiden Coleman, and has cannily backed the horse ante post at 33-1.
Paisley Park is now the 2-1 favourite to land the race: “The whole atmosphere at Cheltenham is amazing. What it would be like to win. It’s very exciting,” said Gemmell.
Gemmell, a former London Government City Council employee, tells the story of his boss once querying his time spent on the telephone, due to him listening to live racing commentary.
“My boss asked ‘how long are you going to be on the phone’? And I answered, about another four furlongs!”
Paisley Park comes up against Irish fancy Faugheen, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh: “Faugheen is a massive danger and Supasundae could be a big player too,” says West Ham fan Gemmell.
“Cheltenham will go nuts if Faugheen wins – but I’m hopeful of Paisley Park,” said Gemmell, 66.
Black Op (10-1) trained by Tom George and ridden by Noel Fehily is a Leader ew tip.
In the JLT Novices chase over 2m 4f the Philip Hobbs trained Defi Du Sueil (1.30) ridden by Barry Geraghty gets the nod over Lost In Translation.
The Pertempts Network Final handicap hurdle over 3 miles sees Geraghty ride the Gordon Elliott trained Sire Du Berlais (2.10) tipped to get a place, with Ian Williams trained First Assignment also a Leader each way tip.
Ruby Walsh rides Leader tip Footpad (2.50) the Willie Mullins trained fancy in the Ryanair chase over 2m 4 1/2f. Monalee, trained by Harry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachel Blackmore is selected ew.
The Brown Advisory and Merriebelle handicap chase over 2m 4 1/2f features the Nicky Henderson trained Janika (4.10) tipped to win; with ew selections Siru Du Lac and Spirit Of The Games worthy of support.
Barry Geraghty gets the ride on the Nicky Henderson trained Epatante (4.50) tipped to land the National Hunt novices hurdle over 2m 1f; with Posh Trish and My Sister Sarah, one of Willie Mullins’ seven entries, selected ew.
The Leader each way selections in the final race of the day, The Fulke Walwyn Hunt novices hurdle over 3m 2f, are Measure Of My Dreams, Any Second Now and No Comment.