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Grand National Winner Noble Yeats Denies Paisley Park Fourth Victory at Cheltenham
In a thrilling finish at Cheltenham, Grand National winner Noble Yeats prevented Paisley Park from securing his fourth victory in the McCoy Contractors Cleeve Hurdle. Trainer Emmet Mullins showcased his unconventional thinking once again as he entered the Aintree hero with just three hurdle runs under his belt.
With regular jockey Sean Bowen sidelined, Harry Cobden took up the ride. However, halfway through the race it seemed like they were out of contention as Dashel Drasher, Champ and Botox Has attempted to run down their rivals.
A Change in Fortune
The dynamics of the race shifted dramatically when Noble Yeats (3-1), along with Paisley Park and Strong Leader who had fallen behind earlier on, surged back into contention after the final hurdle. While Noble Yeats maintained a narrow lead after clearing the last obstacle, Paisley Park relentlessly closed in despite being left behind earlier.
“A Brilliant Race”
Mullins stated that it was a fantastic duel between two genuine horses racing all the way to the finish line. He admitted that others may have enjoyed it more than he did due to its sheer intensity. Looking ahead, Mullins confirmed their intention to return in March and reiterated their claim for success. He believed that Noble Yeats would be a strong contender, leading them back to the National after the Stayers’ Hurdle. Mullins explained that this particular route had been on their minds since the start of the year. Prior to this season, he had discussed with owner Robert Waley-Cohen about focusing on the Stayers’ first before bypassing the Gold Cup. While some were surprised by the absence of an entry for the Gold Cup, Mullins emphasized that they had planned for the Stayers’ Hurdle all along. He mentioned how well Noble Yeats performed as a stayer and praised Cheltenham’s New Course for providing a track suitable for his running style. The course presented a thorough test of stamina, perfectly aligning with his strengths.
Noble Yeats had not crossed the finish line ahead since securing victory in December 2022 at Aintree’s Many Clouds Chase. Mullins expressed satisfaction in getting another win under their belt, acknowledging that last season revealed some limitations when competing at top-level races over fences. He added that it was crucial to boost Noble Yeats’ confidence following challenging tests like the Grand National, Gold Cup, and Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris where he consistently placed but fell short of victory.
The Next Logical Step
Mullins acknowledged being put in their place during previous attempts at winning the Gold Cup. Recognizing they were approximately 10 pounds behind top competitors within that bracket , targeting success in tne Stayers’ Hurdle seemed like a logical next move. Mullins concluded by stating there are no rules set in stone within horse racing and appreciating every opportunity to participate in prestigious events such as those previously mentioned.
A Valiant Effort from Paisley Park
Paisley Park suffered his third narrow defeat of the season, having been beaten by a head in both the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and the Long Walk at Ascot last month. Emma Lavelle, Paisely Park’s trainer, visibly showed her pride in his performance and was touched by the reception he received upon returning to the unsaddling enclosure.
Seeking Louder Support
Lavelle commented on how much the crowd’s encouragement lifts Paisley Park but expressed a desire for even louder support. She described it as an emotional experience and appreciated hearing people expressing their love for Paisley Park. Lavelle acknowledged that it would be challenging to find another horse like him, considering his determination even at 12 years old.