Paisley Park defends Cleeve crown

Paisley Park showed why he is the dominant performer in the staying hurdle division as he produced a brilliant performance to secure back-to-back editions of the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Ridden much closer to the pace than he was last season by jockey Aidan Coleman, it was Summerville Boy who bounded off in front and led for the majority of the three-mile race.

As is customary with Paisley Park’s style of running, Coleman had to stoke up his mount turning from home, but the response was instant. Coleman then waited patiently before delivering the eight-year-old to take the lead at the last.

The pair then pulled clear to beat Summerville Boy by one and a quarter lengths with a further three and a quarter lengths back to Lisnagar Oscar in third.

Speaking to ITV Racing after the race, Coleman said: “He’s not slow but it turned into a sprint. He came down the hill better than normal, but I had to get stuck in in the straight – I knew I would have to.

“I normally get to the front too soon and going to the last I though this was perfect. He stopped more than he normally does, but he’s brilliant. He’s an absolute pleasure and I’m excited to be associated with him.

“There’s a lot better riders than me who have never found a Paisley Park. Now I have him I really enjoy him. I’ll sleep better than ever tonight.”

Also at Cheltenham, Santini enhanced his Gold Cup chances when a game winner of the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase (3m1½f) while Colin Tizzard looks to have another exciting prospect in Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m4½f) scorer Harry Senior.

The Nick Williams-trained Galahad Quest took the spoils in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (2m1f) while front-runner Cepage wasn’t for passing in the Grade 3 Trophy Handicap Chase (2m4½f).

Joy for Kirby as Lady Buttons wins again

Trainer Phil Kirby and owners Jayne and Keith Sivills toasted more success at Doncaster on Saturday when Lady Buttons took home the Grade 2 Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle (2m½f) for the second year in a row.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Mister Fisher produced an impressive display to win the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase (2m½f) while the David Pipe-trained Ramses De Teillee showed the switch back to hurdles was no problem when he captured the Grade 2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle (3m½f).

In a thrilling finish to this year’s renewal of the Listed Sky Bet Chase, Ok Corral, under the drive of Derek O’Connor, got the better of Fingerontheswitch.

Today’s racing

Having dispatched City Island by 24 lengths earlier this month, the Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected reappears in the Grade 3 novice chase (3m) at Naas today.

The eight-year-old has been a revelation since switching to fences and he looks poised to stretch his unbeaten run to three in this contest.

Australian hurdler Big Blue, trained by Ciaron Maher, will line up in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle (1m7f) at the County Kildare track in preparation for running at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

He’ll have to improve on his performance last time out, when he was pulled up behind Epatante in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle (2m) at Kempton.

Jump racing is also staged at Sedgefield and Fontwell today.