LIFE has not been easy for Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth, but the owner of PAISLEY PARK knows how to have fun and the celebrations will be wild if his pride and joy can win today’s Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.
It is a wonderful story and his horse, who nearly died from colic two years ago, has been impeccable this season, winning a handicap hurdle at Aintree in October off a mark of 140 and now rated 168 following three more successes.
He produced an electrifying performance in the Cleeve Hurdle last time, looking in trouble for a few seconds, before storming clear to beat West Approach by 12 lengths.
It was an unbelievable display and while some have said it was too good to be true, he simply couldn’t have done it any easier.
Prior to that, he had shown his ability when taking the Long Walk Hurdle, so is now on the hunt for a hat-trick of Grade Ones.
While he now has to take on the best of the Irish, last year’s winner Penhill isn’t here and the rain surely won’t have helped Supasundae’s chances of lasting home.
Faugheen could be the fly in the ointment.
He is relatively unexposed over this three mile trip and has won a Ballymore and Champion Hurdle in the past.
However, he is now 11-years-old and there is an argument to say he hasn’t been at his very best at Cheltenham despite those victories.
The Irish punters are likely to pile into him even though he took a heavy fall behind Apple’s Jade at Christmas and hasn’t been seen since.
I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he was to win this, but this is going to take some getting on the ground and at 4/1 with Coral, I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Supasundae is a cracking horse who rarely runs a bad race.
He was a gutsy second to Penhill 12 months ago and you would be keener on his chances if it was good ground.
I’m actually more interested in Willie Mullins’ supposed second string BACARDYS who I can see putting it up to Paisley Park as long as he stays on his feet.
This is a very talented horse, but he has fallen on three of his last five starts which is an obvious worry.
Chasing just doesn’t seem to be his game, though, as two of those were in beginners chases and, like a number of other runners in this field, he’s coming back over the smaller obstacles.
He may well have been placed in this race last year if he hadn’t fallen at the final flight, so Patrick Mullins will be hoping he can jump better this afternoon.
At 14/1 with Betway, he looks a fair each-way shout to chase Paisley Park home.
Colin Tizzard runs two and both of his would have claims based on their decent course form.
West Approach was second in the Cleeve, but KILBRICKEN STORM won last year’s Albert Bartlett easily and was then narrowly beaten in a Grade One at Punchestown.
Similarly to Bacardys, he hasn’t really taken to fences this season, so connections have decided to bring him back over hurdles for a crack at this.
Tizzard reported the son of Oscar to be in flying form at a recent stable visit and the ground will be ideal as he is laden with stamina.
Having put him up a few weeks ago at 16/1, I am still keen on his each-way chances and Ladbrokes are currently offering a best price of 14/1.
Black Op and Top Notch are others who are reverting to hurdles and both would have a squeak on their best form.
The former was second to Samcro in last year’s Ballymore, while the latter has won his last two chase starts and was second to Paisley Park at Ascot in December.
But it’s the favourite for me and if you can get 2/1 that will be a very fair price.
BILL ESDAILE’S SUN RACING STAYERS’ HURDLE 1-2-3
1 PAISLEY PARK
3 KILBRICKEN STOR