Aidan Coleman is looking forward to being reunited with Paisley Park in the Galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Coleman has yet to taste defeat after six rides aboard Emma Lavelle’s stable star, a winning run which includes victories in this Grade Two contest 12 months ago and in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March.
While respectful of the potential opposition in the Cotswolds this weekend, the leading jockey expects Paisley Park to prove difficult to beat.
“At Paisley Park’s level there are always going to be top-class horses running against him and we are used to that. There are some top-class horses in there like If The Cap Fits and you have a champion like Apple’s Jade in there if she runs,” said the jockey.
“I’m just focusing on my horse. It is great to ride him and horses at his level you only get to ride a few times a season. I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”
Paisley Park picked up where he left off when making a successful reappearance in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, since when he missed an intended engagement in last month’s Marsh Hurdle at Ascot on account of the prevailing testing conditions.
Coleman added: “I was there with Emma and Barry (Fenton) when we walked the course at Ascot before the inspection and he was never going to run. Ascot did amazingly well to get the racing on after the deluge of rain they had, but it was the right decision for Paisley to miss it and he is now ready to run at Cheltenham on Saturday.
“He felt great at Newbury and I thought it was his best run. I was a bit surprised a few people weren’t as taken with it as I was.
“People forget The Worlds End was behind him at Newbury and had won a Grade Two before then and has won a Grade One since.
“It doesn’t matter that a few people weren’t taken by him at Newbury. I’m the one riding the horse and I have every confidence in him.”
Paisley Park is the headline act among 11 entries for the Cleeve Hurdle.
His possible rivals include Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits – not seen since winning the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November – and Gordon Elliott’s brilliant mare Apple’s Jade, who bounced back to winning ways at Leopardstown last month.
However, Eddie O’Leary, manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, said: “Apple’s Jade will probably run in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on Thursday.”
Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge and Relkeel Hurdle winner Summerville Boy from Tom George’s yard also feature.
The first race on Festival Trials Day is the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, which has attracted 14 entries, including Joseph O’Brien’s Cerberus and the Donald McCain-trained Navajo Pass.
Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Possible runners in this two-and-a-half-mile contest include the unbeaten Sporting John from Philip Hobbs’ yard, Fry’s exciting six-year-old King Roland and Elliott’s The Bosses Oscar, but Colin Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway is a notable absentee.
Elliott’s Samcro is an interesting entrant for the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase, which would represent a sizeable drop in class having chased home Faugheen in a Grade One at Limerick on his latest outing.