Chad Yeomans celebrates a superb weekend for Andrew Gemmell, reveals the three horses he'll be keeping an eye on from now on and previews the Tingle Creek.
With each weekend that passes, another story is created in the National Hunt season, and this one was no different.
Sport, for me, is about belief and hope. It’s about the narrative and rewriting the history books. It’s about the passion and the thrill and, time and time again, horse racing delivers on all those definitions.
Andrew Gemmell was registered blind from birth and, with his limits knowing no bounds, it is his story that touches most. He is a man with a passion for life and a penchant for achieving what others would put past him.
He is the owner of Paisley Park, the current Stayers’ Hurdle champion, and his beloved seven-year-old returned to the scene with a win in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.
All roads now lead to Cheltenham once again in March to defend his crown, but there will be the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December and the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January before that, as well as the possibility of both Aintree and Punchestown afterwards.
Every racing fan loves to see their favourite horses run and, barring complication, it looks as if we’re going to see Paisley Park a few times this year. Hopefully his West Ham-loving owner will have a few more reasons to celebrate in the coming months!
Gemmell is also part owner of De Rasher Counter in the Makin’ Bacon Partnership, and their second-season novice chaser took the Ladbrokes Trophy on Saturday in rather convincing fashion under an inspired ride from the young Ben Jones.
Rest of the weekend
In racing, we’re often reminded how levelling the sport can be, with plenty of incidents to bring us crashing down. But moments like this weekend show how dreams are made, and we must enjoy them.
As far as lows go, Buveur D’Air suffered a freak injury in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle which could potentially rule the dual Champion Hurdler out for the season. Let’s hope he makes a speedy recovery.
Despite the headlines being all about the odds-on favourite being beaten, nothing should be taken away from the winner, Cornerstone Lad, and the inspired ride that Henry Brooke gave him. It must be some feeling for the Micky Hammond yard to win a Grade 1 and my congratulations go to all the team.
On Sunday, there was only one fixture on both sides of the Irish Sea that managed to survive the weather conditions and, luckily, it was at Fairyhouse, which boasted a sublime card.
The highlight of the day for me was the victory of Envoi Allen who, to me, looks the real deal. I hate getting carried away with young horses but I’m the biggest fan of this horse, who looks as though he really could win at any distance, on any ground and against any opposition.
It’s going to be exciting to watch him progress over the next few years and in the short term, it’s going to take something special to beat him. I really think he has it all.
The notebook had a few new additions this week with Little Brown Trout being added following his run at Wolverhampton on Tuesday evening. Nothing went his way at Dunstall Park, but he’ll soon be winning races, mark my words.
I’d also look out for It Sure Is for Nicky Henderson, who ran very well on debut at Newbury on Friday.
Ferny Hollow also looks like he’ll be a machine when he matures following his debut second at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Ones to watch
I’m really looking forward to Sandown Park on Saturday for the Tingle Creek Chase, which always delivers a thrilling race and offers plenty of clues for the Betway Champion Chase.
It looks as though it’s going to be stellar renewal with Defi Su Seuil, Politologue, Sceau Royal and Un De Sceuax all but confirmed, plus the possible additions of Janika and Waiting Patiently so, fingers crossed, we could be set for a classic.
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