Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Press Release 27th January 2024 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Noble Yeats (3-1), winner of the 2022 Randox Grand National at Aintree, made just his third start over hurdles at Cheltenham today, Festival Trials Day. It proved to be a good decision by connections as the nine-year-old took the honours in the Grade Two McCoy Contractors Cleeve Hurdle (3m).


Ridden by Harry Cobden for the first time, Robert Waley-Cohen’s gelding led on the run-in and was all out to hold off the challenge of veteran Paisley Park, winner of this race in 2019, 2020 and 2022, by a head.


Successful owner Robert Waley-Cohen said: “I’ve shouted a lot, and I keep on losing my voice with the close finishes. I’m a little bit sorry to spoil Paisley Park’s story, but not very.


“He had a really tough season last season so we wanted to give him a long summer and start slowly and think about winning the Grand National.


“After that we have to think about winning the Stayers’ Hurdle. It is the only race we are entered in at The Festival and it has to be a serious consideration.


“I thought we stay better than anybody. He has won over an extended four and a quarter miles at Aintree so I think we can do it over three miles at Cheltenham.


“He was fourth turning in, but he flew up that hill. I first won the Stayers’ Hurdle with Rustie in 1989 which is 35 years ago so I think it is time for another one.


“It will be fun to have a crack at it and it is a much less tough race than the Gold Cup and a more suitable prep for the Grand National.”


Trainer Emmet Mullins added: “It was a brilliant race. It was two tough genuine horses running to the line. It was a bit nerve-racking and I would say most other people enjoyed it more than I did.


“We had to come and do that and lay down our claim for that (the Stayers’ Hurdle). He would be in with a shout then all rods will lead back to the Grand National.


“I said to Robert (Waley-Cohen) before he ran this season that we are going for the Stayers’ Hurdle first and skip the Gold Cup. I think a lot of people were surprised when they didn’t see an entry in that, but the Stayers’ Hurdle has been the plan from the start of the season.


“He stays well and the New Course here lends to a thorough test and that suits him.

“It is great to see him get his head back in front as they were serious tests what we asked him to do last season. He didn’t come home without a cheque all season.


“We have had our crack at a Gold Cup and we were well and truly put in our place and I would say we are 10lbs off that. I would say the Stayers’ Hurdle is the next logical place to look.”


Emma Lavelle, trainer of runner-up Paisley Park, said: “He is 12 years old and he has just been beaten a head in his fifth Cleeve Hurdle. How are you ever going to have a horse like that again. I was absolutely fine then I walked back into the winner’s enclosure and there were people at the front going ‘We love Paisley that is why we love racing’, and I was like oh my God I’m going to start crying. 


“He tries his heart out. Maybe he is saving it for the big one, but it will be a tough gig. I felt we had a chance today of it being his real day this season. To consistently coming out every time this season means a lot.


“They didn’t go much of a gallop and they were all on top of each other, and they have just quickened and he has got caught for toe then all he has done is stay on again.


“He just wants an even gallop.


“It is just the most emotional thing with the noise of people shouting for us and calling for us out there.”



Cookie Policy

We use “cookies” to help enhance your experience and improve the functionality of our website. You can find out more in our cookie policy. We also serve cookies, some with chocolate chips, on our racecourses.