Cheltenham: Paisley Park seals seventh win, Santini wins Cotswold

Paisley Park and Aidan Coleman at Cheltenham
Paisley Park jumps clear at Cheltenham

Emma Lavelle's dominant eight-year-old Paisley Park recorded a seventh consecutive win by retaining the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

On soft ground over two miles seven furlongs, the 4-6 favourite made his charge through the centre.

He was ahead at the last and won by one and a quarter lengths from Tom George's Summerville Boy (7-1).

In the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, Nicky Henderson's 13-8 favourite Santini won by three and a half lengths.

It was Henderson's first win in the race since it was first run 40 years ago and his eight-year-old was embroiled in a fluctuating duel with the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai, but powered through and is now second favourite for the Gold Cup in March.

Paisley Park remains on course to defend his Stayers' Hurdle title at the Festival, having won by two and three quarter lengths last year.

Jockey Aidan Coleman was delighted with the horse's performance on Saturday and said: "He's just brilliant; he's gone round in second gear and he's an absolute pleasure.

"Usually I get to the front way too soon, but today I got to the front at the last and I thought that was perfect."

Cepage, the 8-1 shot trained by Venetia Williams, won the Handicap Chase, but David Pipe's 4-1 favourite Warthog, winner of three races, pulled up and suffered a fatal injury.

Pipe wrote on Twitter: "It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Warthog was fatally injured today. Fly high big lad, thank you for the great days."

Analysis

Cornelius Lysaght, BBC horse racing correspondent

Paisley Park's position as British jumping racing's principal star was confirmed here, and he goes galloping on towards the defence of the Stayers Hurdle title at the Cheltenham Festival as probably its number one attraction.

Having moved well and jumped beautifully, there were, I have to say, a few strides - only a few - before the last when one wondered if things were working out. But under further expert guidance from Aidan Coleman, he strode on to victory, amid great acclaim from the crowds here. We really are loving the story of this horse and his owner, trainer and all the team.

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