Cheltenham© Photo Healy Racing
There was a win for France at Cheltenham when Gold Tweet ran out a convincing victor in the Dahlbury Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle.
Searching for his fourth win in the key Stayers’ Hurdle trial, the eye was drawn to the smooth-travelling 13-8 favourite Paisley Park as the pace began to quicken coming down the hill for a second time.
But with Aidan Coleman soon pushing away without response aboard Emma Lavelle’s stable star, it was left to Gabriel Leenders’ French raider to cruise into contention and he overtook long-time leader Dashel Drasher shortly after the last before registering a cosy three-length success.
Although sent off at 14-1 there was no fluke about the victory and Gold Tweet was introduced into the Stayers’ Hurdle market at 8-1 by race sponsors Paddy Power — although connections will need to decide whether to supplement the six-year-old for a return to Prestbury Park in the spring.
Leenders said: “It is a dream. I was a lad for David Pipe and Nicky Henderson and a long time ago I said I would come for a run here with a horse and today we are here and we win — it is a dream.
“In France I have won a Group One, but this is the first time I have a runner in England.
“He travelled well and ran a brilliant race. In my head this horse was the first one that I thought had the right profile to run well here. The way he was acting and running in France, we always thought he had the profile to run here.
“He has not been entered in the Stayers’ Hurdle, so we don’t have any plans. We don’t know.”
Emma Lavelle was left a little perplexed by Paisley Park’s run.
“It is a little bit of a head scratcher as he has travelled almost better than he has travelled in a race, but he just didn’t hIt the line running. It is hard to know.
I’d love to say ‘this is why’, but I just don’t have an answer,” she said.
“We’ll see. He seems fine and wasn’t blowing excessively or anything. He’s still had a week less than he would normally have between the Long walk and here, but it is just an odd one, because he travelled so well through the race and was handier than normal because he was travelling.
“I don’t know what the sectionals were, but it is almost as if he didn’t get a chance to hit his flat spot and then stay on. We will go back and have a look at him.
“The long Walk may have had more of an effect, and we had a week less to get over it. It is hard to say, but he hasn’t run terribly, he just hasn’t run in a normal Paisley way.
“He will come back here (Stayers’ Hurdle), absolutely.”