Phenomenal Paisley Park Storms To Stayers Hurdle Glory At Cheltenham Festival

Willie Mullins I never expected to win the Gold Cup

Willie Mullins I never expected to win the Gold Cup

In contrast, Blackmore came into this week still to ride a victor at the track, not even one placing from 12 rides, but she has been challenging for the Irish Jockeys' Championship all season and we know she's a class act.

Back in 1985 First Bout won the corresponding race at Plumpton and later went on to become Henderson's first Triumph Hurdle victor.

Pentland Hills was still moving sweetly on the long run to the last, though, and powered up the hill to beat Gordon Elliott's Coeur Sublime by three lengths, with Gardens Of Babylon third.

But it is 16 years since the favourite won this ferociously competitive handicap, while eight of the last 10 winners started at odds of 14-1 or bigger, so it can pay to look beyond the obvious.

The incident involving hot favourite Sir Erec took place halfway through the Triumph Hurdle - which was televised on ITV - and was particularly tragic because the four-year-old broke a leg on the flat and instantly broke down.

Henderson said of the victor: "He almost fell at the first".

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"It was a cracking good race, but for me it was hell", said Henderson. "He was so professional racing, and professional jumping".

"I think he was getting a little lonely but as soon as Nico said go he was off".

Might Bite was a fine runner-up to Native River last year, but he has failed to show his best form this season, while former Stayers' Hurdle hero Thistlecrack ran a stormer when second behind Clan Des Obeaux in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, and he will add more strength in depth to the Colin Tizzard team, who also saddle last year's champion Native River.

Paisley Park duly cemented his place as the next star staying hurdler, and while some punters would've been anxious as he hit a flat spot coming down the hill, it was Coleman that never panicked in the saddle, and as he got into full throttle, Paisley Park just found another gear and cruised past the courageous Sam Spinner, who ran a huge race at lofty odds. "He is a slightly Punjabi-type of horse".

"That goes and happens and your heart goes out to them, as JP (McManus, owner) is a good mate and is one of the great men of National Hunt racing".

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