Paisley Park claims Long Walk Hurdle glory at Kempton

Paisley Park raised the roof at Kempton by winning the rescheduled Ladbrokes Long Walk Hurdle.

Trainer Emma Lavelle had voiced concerns pre-race that staging the race at such a sharp track would not suit her stable star - and that looked sure to be proven right as the soon-to-be 11-year-old began to lose touch turning into the straight. 

It was Champ, who had made all the running, who looked to hold all the aces as he was still travelling well for Jonjo O'Neill junior, while Goshen - trying three miles for the first time - had still to play his hand.

But as stamina possibly began to tell, Goshen had no more to give and Champ was soon sending out distress signals, too, as Aidan Coleman and his old partner began to stay on relentlessly.

On jumping the last Paisley Park (9-2) just took off in front and from there the result seemed inevitable as he powered away to win by four and a quarter lengths from Goshen to gain a fourth Grade One success.

Coleman told ITV Racing: "That's three Long Walks he's won now, two at Ascot and one at Kempton.

"I find it hard not to get emotional about him as he's an absolute pleasure. He's been a mainstay of my career for a long period of time, he's taken me to places that I'm struggling to repeat - especially this year.

"The better horses I ride are getting a bit older apart from Jonbon, but then along comes this fellow and he is a testament to Emma and Barry (Fenton) and their team.

"He's running in three-mile slogs for six years now, it's nearly unheard of."

He added: "He picked up well and going to the last I knew I'd win. I actually got the front too soon, I don't think I've ever given him a good ride!"

Fenton, Lavelle's partner and assistant, said: "It's just unbelievable really, he pulls it out of the bag every time. He just seems to have that spark back this year.

"I was a bit worried over the first two hurdles but even tacking him up before the race, he just seemed right. He's not even just a bit better than last year, he feels like he's as good as we've had him. Last year everything was a bit hard work, even training him at home, but this year he seems bright and happy and enjoying himself. He's one of those horses.

"This was probably his least favourite ground, but I said to Aidan that this is Paisley Park and you never know what is going to happen. To be fair I was happy going to the third-last and it was just when we landed at the back of it that all of a sudden we were under the pump and under it proper.

"The dead ground probably helped us in the sense that the others came back to him and once he gets a feel that the others are coming back to him he's at it again.

"He's one of those horses and he always pulls through. We nearly lost him a couple of times, but he's a fighter and he pulls through. He's a poker player and I'd hate to play poker with him as you would not know what's under his sleeve! That's the way he trains at home, he takes his every day stuff with a pinch of salt but he's an incredible horse.

"I've spoken to Emma and she's happy and funnily enough I've spoken to Andrew (Gemmell, owner) on the phone. He's down in Australia so I'm gutted for him that he's not here, but at least the race was on after Ascot and I was giving him the commentary.

"I won't say what he said at the end, but he was very happy anyways!"

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