Paisley Park looking to fight back in 'wide-open' Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival
Paisley Park made an unsuccessful bid for a fourth successive victory in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday; beaten nine and a half lengths into third in the Grade Two contest as French raider Gold Tweet caused a minor upset in the Cotswolds. The 11-year-old, who also finished third in the past two seasons behind Flooring Porter in the Stayers' Hurdle, is a 20/1 shot to regain his crown, but Lavelle is hopeful with a stronger gallop he can make his presence felt. "He's come out of it well. He seems good in himself, ate up overnight and seems absolutely fine," said the Wiltshire-based trainer. "I just think the fact that he was so close to the pace and travelling so comfortably suggested they just weren't going quick enough for him to make it a test at the end of the race. "There's a myriad of reasons you could use or think or see, but for me they just hadn't gone quick enough for him and Aidan (Coleman) slightly felt the same thing. He asked him, but wasn't unreasonably hard on him coming up the hill, so we'll just head on to the Stayers', all things being equal." Gordon Elliott's Galmoy Hurdle winner Teahupoo is the 11/4 favourite in a Stayers' Hurdle market dominated by the Irish, with Home By The Lee, Blazing Khal and Flooring Porter all prominent, although the latter is far from certain to bid for the hat-trick following a recent setback. Assessing the field, Lavelle added: "It does look wide-open and I think it always does going into that race. Teahupoo is a new one on the scene, obviously. "With more runners at the Festival, they're likely to go more of a gallop so we'll see how we go. "He'd had two hard races already this season before Saturday, but we can freshen him up now and get him back in March. "He's such an extraordinary horse and has been so good to us you can never be disappointed in him. Of course you want to win, but you can never walk away disappointed from those races as you know he's always trying for you and we'll see what comes next."
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