IT'S A PURPLE REIGN FOR PAISLEY & GEMMELL
Owner Andrew Gemmell was all smiles in the winner's enclosure after Paisley Park justified 11/8 favouritism to land the G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle.
Trained by Emma Lavelle and ridden by Aidan Coleman, Paisley Park looked to have it all to do entering the home straight, but he displayed a potent turn of foot to take the lead approaching the final flight.
Despite an untidy leap, the seven-year-old son of Oscar ran on willingly for Coleman's urgings to score by two and three-quarter lengths.
Gemmell, who has been blind since birth, said: "This is fantastic and a real dream for me. I cannot believe it has happened.
"I still had hopes [during the race] because we know that is the way Paisley Park runs.
"I hope this is the first of many because I will keep coming back. We are so chuffed and we're all in tears."
Gemmell is a fan of the singer Prince and the gelding is named after a song written by the late American artist and the house where he lived in Minneapolis. Paisley Park also runs in the colours of Gemmell's favourite football team, West Ham United.
The owner continued: "Paisley Park is a bit like Big Buck's and Baracouda in that he does hit a flat spot, but he keeps finding. It was a scary moment when he made a mistake at the last too.
"This has been a brilliant journey and I have enjoyed it all the way. I've been to Cheltenham for years and years. It is just something else to be in the winner's enclosure.
"Emma Lavelle and Barry Fenton [assistant trainer] have done brilliantly with this horse. I'm so chuffed for those two and Aidan. They are all great people to be around and this is a brilliant moment."
Paisley Park is the 2/1 favourite with Betway and the 3/1 favourite with Paddy Power for next year's Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle.
PAISLEY PARK WIN IS DIFFERENT GRAVY FOR TRAINER EMMA LAVELLE
Emma Lavelle waited 20 years for a first top level win courtesy of Paisley Park in the G1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, but she had less than three months to wait for a second with the same horse (11/8 favourite) in the G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle and this time it was even better.
Lavelle enjoyed Festival handicap wins with Crack Away Jack in 2008 and Pause And Clause in 2010, but Paisley Park's win here was of a different order all together, not least because her husband Barry Fenton rides the seven-year-old every morning and owner Andrew Gemmell has been a friend and valued supporter of the yard for years.
The trainer said: "It's different gravy. It's just a different level. People are giving three cheers for Paisley Park! It's just phenomenal for everyone. All the lads are at home watching on TV.
"It's amazing. Watching the race we wondered if he was too far out of his ground, but Aidan (Coleman) knew what he had and said he still got there too soon. These real true stayers need to travel off the bridle, and then they need to find it when asked. That's what he's done. He's had a proper race today, and I'm so proud of him."
While most of Paisley Park's supporters had their hearts in their mouths when he hit the last and lost momentum, Lavelle didn't even see it.
She explained: "I watched it from the stands and had a tannoy right in front of me across the last hurdle, so thank God I never even saw the mistake. But when I watched it on the replay it was maybe not absolutely ideal, but apart from that Aidan said he probably jumped the best he's ever jumped. He just missed that one. What a special horse."
Asked about the pressure she must have felt in the build-up, Paisley Park having become one of the meeting's 'people's horses' owing to his hugely progressive profile Gemmell's widely reported sight impairment, she replied: "Weirdly I felt calm until the race was about to jump off and then I thought I was going to burst into tears.
"You just kind of feel those fairytales don't happen, and the most emotional I've been today is after Frodon won for Bryony. I thought 'Oh my God, that's amazing, but now she's gone and stolen the whole fairytale'. But we got a chunk of it so it's okay!"
She added: "I felt that if the will of the people was anything to go by this horse was going to win. He had so many people behind him and they were probably just blowing him up the hill. It's just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
"I cannot say quite how bad our hangovers are going to be in the morning."
COLEMAN: 'I'M LIVING THE DREAM'
Aidan Coleman has had to wait 10 years for a second winner at The Festival™ presented by Magners - Kayf Aramis was his first, in the 2009 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle. But Paisley Park's thrilling victory in the G1 £325,000 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle was worth the wait.
Despite a bad blunder at the final flight of hurdles, the Emma Lavell-trained Oscar seven-year-old showed an exceptional turn of foot to pass his rivals and win by two and three-quarter lengths from long-time leader Sam Spinner. Paisley Park, owned by Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth, was the 11/8 favourite.
Coleman said: "It was super. You are never expecting to go round on the bridle on Paisley Park, but that's what makes him such a good horse because he races behind the bridle, but it is the Stayers' Hurdle and what he does is stay, exceptionally well. Because he's quite a relaxed horse to ride, that allows him, when he hits the hill, to really finish. Although coming down the hill you'd like to be going that little bit better, you do know that when you meet the rising ground you're going to get there. He's a fantastic horse to be associated with - I'm just living the dream at the moment.
"[Hitting the final hurdle] wasn't ideal but we had to do something wrong, didn't we? I thought for a second, 'oh, we're beat', but he just took a second and I gathered him again and we just took off. That shows how good he is, how classy he is and how tough he is. Andrew is a great fella - the whole thing is just very special and I'm loving it.
"I don't know what I was thinking coming here today, but I could not see Paisley Park getting beat. I have not really had these winners at the festivals so I thought I better calm down a bit and enjoy the day.
"When I gave the saddle to Emma, she was super. She told me to enjoy myself and said, 'you know the horse so I am not going to tell you what to do'.
"It was a strange thing when I crossed the line because my first thought was when my best friend, Campbell Gillies, had his best day here a few years ago. For whatever reason, when I passed the line, he was the first person I thought of. He was a great friend of mine and I just want his family to know that, although he died a few years ago now, he is always there in our hearts."
Aidan Coleman, the winning jockey on Paisley Park, was interviewed on Racing TV and said: "It went as I expected it to go. He is a very generous horse off the bridle but, when he is sitting behind early on in the race, he likes to save a bit. It's a Stayers' Hurdle and that's what you need. That's why, as soon as he hit the hill, I got there too soon again, which is why he made a mistake at the last.
"It was his best round of jumping before the last. When I got here so soon in the Cleeve, he acclimatised to it and was eyeing it up from 15 strides back whereas today he was a bit closer before he copped that he was in front and it was just a bit of complacency.
"We got over it and, when he landed, he went again. I knew that, as soon as I landed and gathered him up, he was off again and I knew that I would win.
"Although you are pushing and niggling him away down the hill, it's not ideal, but it is ideal for him. It's his running style and he has shown this season that it suits him best.
"He is effective on any ground, he is relatively young and I am looking forward to riding him for a few more years to come.
"He just seems to know what hill the finish line is on. Although he doesn't come down it well, it's just that stage in the race but, when he gets to the bottom, he likes coming up it.
"I couldn't see him getting beat all week - I honestly couldn't - and I came in here quite relaxed. Victory wasn't a formality, you have to give every race the respect it deserves, but I didn't think that there would be that much relief when I crossed the line because I was really sweet and confident coming here. It was fairly emotional.
"Andrew is a massive sports enthusiast and an ultimate gentleman, win lose or draw. He just a terribly nice fellow and an absolute gentleman. He's a pleasure to be around, to be associated with and I am just very thankful and honoured to be able to give him this opportunity."
Joe Colliver (Sam Spinner, 2nd): "He has run his heart out. We had a good lead around, he has jumped and come for me every time I asked. I could not have asked for any more, we have just been beaten by a better horse."
Ruby Walsh (Faugheen, 3rd): "He ran a blinder. It's funny because I never really thought I was going to beat Sam Spinner though. I always thought Joe had me covered, but Faugheen ran a blinder and is a great old horse."
Sam Twiston-Davies (Wholestone, 5th): "He ran a really good race and hopefully he will go to Aintree with a squeak."
Robbie Power (Supasundae, 7th): "He ran well, but just didn't get the trip on that ground. It was a proper gallop the whole way, I thought I had a chance turning in but he didn't get up the hill."
SPINNER TURNS TO SECOND PLACE
Jedd O'Keffe, trainer of the two and three quarter-length second home Sam Spinner (33/1) in the £325,000 G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle, was tearful and thrilled after the race when talking to the press.
Yorkshire based O'Keefe said: "That was much more like it. I am absolutely thrilled, what a brave horse and what a great ride from Joe (Colliver). I think we were beaten by a very very good horse.
"We thought we just had a chance when Paisley Park made a mistake at the last, but it wasn't to be."
Joe Colliver, Sam Spinner's jockey, added: "Everything has worked out well, we just met one better on the day. I thought we had him turning in but he just blew past me.
"He has jumped great. I am grateful for his run."
Willie Mullins, trainer of the third and fourth home, Faugheen (4/1) and Bapaume (16/1), said: "Faugheen went well. He gave us a brief moment of whatever coming down the hill.
"I thought wow this is on but probably age has caught up with him. He might have liked the ground a bit softer but that is the way it is.
"I imagine Faugheen will go to Punchestown and he might go on to France. He is still a very good horse.
"I haven't discussed anything."
Ruby Walsh added: "He did well to battle back and regain third but the winner went by us like we were standing still - that's what it felt like, anyway. I never thought I was getting by Sam Spinner; I never felt I had Joe Collier [Sam Spinner's jockey] covered, even."
Mullins went on to discuss his fourth home, saying: "Bapaume stayed on fantastically. I am really delighted with him. He will go to Punchestown and then maybe look at a novice chase career for him next season."
3:30pm Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y £325,000
1 Paisley Park (IRE) 7 11 10 Emma Lavelle Andrew Gemmell Aidan Coleman 11/8 Fav
2 Sam Spinner p 7 11 10 Jedd O'Keeffe Caron & Paul Chapman Joe Colliver 33/1
3 Faugheen (IRE) 11 11 10 Willie Mullins IRE Susannah Ricci Ruby Walsh 4/1
4 Bapaume (FR) 6 11 10 Willie Mullins IRE Susannah Ricci Paul Townend 16/1
5 Wholestone (IRE) 8 11 10 Nigel Twiston-Davies Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Sam Twiston-Davies 33/1
6 Bacardys (FR) 8 11 10 Willie Mullins IRE Shanakiel Racing Syndicate Mr Patrick Mullins 20/1
7 Supasundae ts 9 11 10 Jessica Harrington IRE Ann & Alan Potts Limited Robbie Power 9/1
8 The Mighty Don (IRE) 7 11 10 Nick Gifford Golden Rose Partnership Leighton Aspell 66/1
9 West Approach 9 11 10 Colin Tizzard John and Heather Snook Tom Scudamore 33/1
10 Keeper Hill (IRE) 8 11 10 Warren Greatrex McNeill Family Richard Johnson 66/1
11 Kilbricken Storm (IRE) ts 8 11 10 Colin Tizzard A Selway & P Wavish Harry Cobden 16/1
12 Black Op (IRE) ts 8 11 10 Tom George Roger Brookhouse Noel Fehily 14/1
13 Yanworth bl 9 11 10 Alan King J P McManus Barry Geraghty 33/1
14 Petit Mouchoir (FR) 8 11 10 Henry de Bromhead IRE Gigginstown House Stud Rachael Blackmore 25/1
15 Top Notch (FR) 8 11 10 Nicky Henderson Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Daryl Jacob 12/1
16 Man of Plenty bl,ts 10 11 10 Sophie Leech G Thompson Jonathan Burke 200/1
17 Coquin Mans (FR) 7 11 10 Willie Mullins IRE George Creighton David Mullins 100/1
18 Nautical Nitwit (IRE) p 10 11 10 Philip Kirby Birrafun 2 Thomas Dowson 100/1
Emma Lavelle - 3rd win at The Festival
Aidan Coleman - 2nd win at The Festival
Distances: 2¾, 4, 1¼, 11, 3½, 1¼, 1¼, 6, 2½, 2, 2¼, ½, ¾, ¾, 4, 13, 15
Time: 5m 53.33s
Breeder: M Conaghan
Breeding: 7 b g Oscar(IRE) - Presenting Shares(IRE) (Presenting)
Tote Win: £2.10 Places: £1.40; £8.00; £2.10
More from Bryony Frost - the first female rider to win a Grade One chase at The Festival
Bryony Frost, interviewed on Racing TV, said: "It's Frodon's day, he has won at The Festival, he is my partner in crime and, oh my God, did he not answer me today? Everything we did out there today, we were totally in snyc. When I needed him to come up a little bit longer down the back just to hold that advantage over the horses behind us.
"It wasn't easy because there were niggles on him the whole way up front today. It was a little bit like we were going that half a gear quicker, but he is so on song, the team at Ditcheat have had him not even 100 per cent but 200 per cent ready for this.
"He has come here in the form of his life. This year, he has just gone from better to better to better. This is his golden day and he deserves every minute of this - he does. He is so intelligent, he took it all in and was loving coming back down the chute. All the photos at the top - most horses would have got impatient, but he just stood there like a model, saying 'yeah, take my photo!'
"I don't know what it is about him, but he is brave and he wants it. He is competitive and loves to be in the lead - 'go on ask me again'. At the last, he was like 'we have to get it' and I was like 'I know, I'm trying!'
"It's the little things out in the countryside. He knows the water, he knows the ditches - the first ditch he came to, he gave it another foot. He is just intelligent, he is so sharp out there - his racing brain, with the right lead on the bends. OK, he was slightly lugging out on the fourth fence, but that is just the way he goes round here.
"We know every blade of grass together and, like I said in a lot of the interviews beforehand, if I am going to ask him his biggest question of his career, it's going to be at his favourite track and it sure is his favourite track.
"I was kicking myself when we were headed, thinking 'oh no, we should have gone faster!' but it was that moment when he did, most horses would have gone OK and accept defeat, but not Frodon.
"He said no and I said no, and, for that split-second in about two strides, it could have gone the other way. But he grabbed hold of me and said 'no kid, we keep going, that hill is still there, there is still one more to jump, we are still in it, the line isn't here yet' and away you go. His ears went flat back on his neck and he wanted it more than anyone.
"For Pacha Du Polder, it was his day too that day (when winning under Frost in the 2017 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase when she was an amateur rider). I was only a little kid at the time and Paul gave me a massive chance. Andy Stewart came into the paddock just then and it is mad to think that it was only a couple of years ago and now I have incredible horses.
"Just look - Pacha Du Polder, Present Man, Frodon, Black Corton, Milansbar - they are all there for me. Pyramids are not built from the top, they have to come up, and I am very lucky, People say that I have had an amazing career, but I have had horses that have had amazing careers and I am lucky to partner them in the process of doing this. The teams that support me are incredible.
"Black Corton and Frodon have got me two Grade Ones and that's mad. Frodon will have his banner when he gets home - I know Holly, who rides him every day, will be tearing up. She has probably jumped up and down about the ceiling five times. It's not just me, it's not just Frodon, it's his owners, it's Paul, it's Clifford, it's everyone at home, it's a team effort - you are never going to be anywhere without the support.
"It doesn't matter if you are a boy or a girl, it doesn't matter who you are, if you want something and you have the support - go on and keep kicking and doing it. I live by that metaphor - if you look at the top of the mountain, it's a very, very long way up and sometimes it's daunting.
"For me, when I was a kid and if looked at this point now, I would have never believed it. I just kept my eyes on the floor and kept moving them forward, making sure that I was going uphill. As long as you are doing that, and as long as you have people holding your hand and pulling you up, then good luck and keep kicking."
Her father Jimmy Frost reacted: "That was incredible, I am so proud of her. I don't think they missed a beat out there, did they? We walked the course this morning and she rode it absolutely to the second, and we all saw the result. Fantastic!"
Bryony Frost is 20/1 from 66/1 for Sports Personality Of The Year with Betfair.
Female Jockeys at The Festival - corrected version
Bryony Frost's victory on Frodon in the G1 Ryanair Chase this afternoon is the most high-profile victory by a female rider at The Festival and the first in a Grade One chase or hurdle race at the meeting.
She said: "Frodon has got his day. He is Pegasus, he has wings, and he is the most incredible battler. He travelled and by God he jumps.
"When he got overtaken two out, most horses would quit, but he grabbed me by the hands and said 'don't you dare give up, don't you dare not send me into the last, I want this more than you, now come on!'
"He is the perfection of determination. Look at what he has done there and tell me he does not love racing. He is unbelievable.
"The dream he has just made come true for me is just incredible. He deserves every single pat, carrot and polo. This is his day."
It was her second win at The Festival, following on Pacha Du Polder's victory in the 2017 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase when she was an amateur rider.
Rachael Blackmore, another professional jockey and second in the Irish Jump jockeys' championship, was the first female rider to succeed at The Festival 2019, partnering A Plus Tard to win the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase on Tuesday.
2018 was the best year yet for female jockeys at The Festival, with four victories, each provided by a different rider - with Lizzie Kelly becoming the first professional female jockey to triumph, followed by Bridget Andrews, while amateurs Harriet Tucker and Katie Walsh, who retired from race riding the following month, also enjoyed memorable victories.
Another leading Irish amateur, Nina Carberry, who has the best record of any female rider at The Festival with seven wins, also stepped back from race riding in April, 2018.
Overall: 15 winning female jockeys, with 25 winners between them
First: Miss Caroline Beasley - Eliogarty, 1983 Foxhunter Chase.
First professional rider: Lizzie Kelly - Coo Star Sivola, 2018 Ultima Handicap Chase.
Most successful: Ms Nina Carberry, 7 winners.
First Grade One chase winner - Bryony Frost - Frodon - 2019 Ryanair Chase
First Grade One winner - Ms Katie Walsh - 2018 Weatherbys Champion Bumer
Best race: St James's Place Foxhunter Chase - 2018 Miss Harriet Tucker; 2017 Miss Bryony Frost; 2016 & 2015 Ms Nina Carberry; 2004 Miss Rilly Goschen; 2002 Mrs Fiona Needham; 1995 Miss Polly Curling; 1989 Miss Katie Rimell; 1983 Miss Caroline Beasley.
Frost, Bryony (2 wins)
St James's Place Foxhunter Chase: 2017 Pacha Du Polder (when riding as an amateur)
Ryanair Chase: 2019 Frodon