Favourites Paisley Park and Champ win at Newbury

Paisley Park wins at Cheltenham
Favourite Paisley Park with jockey Aidan Coleman jump the last at Newbury

Jump racing's champion long distance hurdler Paisley Park returned with victory on a thrilling day at Newbury.

The Stayers' Hurdle winner, ridden by Aidan Coleman, saw off the challenge of runner-up Thistlecrack.

Paisley Park, winning a sixth consecutive race for blind owner Andrew Gemmell, is set to run next in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on 21 December.

Meanwhile, Champ - named after jockey AP McCoy - swerved late to avoid a rail in winning the novice chase.

Paisley Park was one of the stories of the 2019 racing year - his owner Gemmell has never seen a horse, but waved his white stick in delight at the Cheltenham Festival.

The horse had 6lb more weight to carry than the talented Thistlecrack in the Long Distance Hurdle, but justified his 8-15 favourite tag in winning by a length.

"He won well in the end and the buzz is unbelievable. To train a horse like this is a massive privilege and a responsibility as well," said trainer Emma Lavelle.

Gemmell has hopes of further success in Saturday's big race, the Ladbrokes Trophy, with Paisley Park's stablemate De Rasher Counter.

He is part of the Makin' Bacon Partnership which owns the horse, rated a 10-1 chance for the steeplechase previously known as the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Thistlecrack won the Stayers' Hurdle himself in 2016 and then the King George VI Chase at Kempton before being sidelined by injury.

Despite this creditable performance over hurdles, trainer Colin Tizzard indicated there was likely to be another attempt at the King George on Boxing Day, having been runner-up to Clan Des Obeaux last year.

Tizzard runs Mr Malarkey in Saturday's feature race alongside Robinsfirth and West Approach.

Champ has a lofty name which has been matched by his performances, including an impressive hurdles win over the smart Emitom at Aintree in April.

Geraghty brought him through to challenge long-time leader Black Op after the last, before the 4-5 favourite nearly took the wrong course.

Champ and his rider sharply moved to the right to avoid the rail before defeating the front-runner by a length and three-quarters.

Trainer Nicky Henderson will be hoping for less drama with his four contenders for Saturday's big prize - Ok Corral, On The Blindside, Beware The Bear and Brave Eagle are among a maximum field of 24 runners.

Analysis

Cornelius Lysaght, BBC racing correspondent:

Though Paisley Park's defeat of the admirable Thistlecrack was hard-fought, there was plenty of authority about it; to my eye, he was always holding on.

Emma Lavelle was on record as saying the fitness of the seven-year-old, who looks even more the finished article now, would 'come on' as a result of this run, so there is much about which to look forward in the months ahead.

And though no one has anything against our higher-profile trainers, it is refreshing to see a lesser-known name, in Lavelle, and the horse's colourful owner Andrew Gemmell making headlines.

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