Paisley Park will wear cheekbones for the first time in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.
Coach Emma Lavelle hopes the headgear will help sharpen the nine-year-old up in a race that will help determine if the nine-year-old continues over minor obstacles or starts chasing.
Paisley Park, the Stayers’ Hurdle hero at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, received this award later that year and finished second to Thyme Hill 12 months ago.
“This is an important race for Paisley Park to determine what the next step is,” Lavelle said.
“He’s in no way suggesting at home that he’s different from how he’s been in other years, but he has to go and do it at Newbury.
“The registrations are pretty much what we just ran against, and if he does not go up on his first run, then we know we are not where we were and we will have to make a decision about what we “Do it. Do we let him try over fences or stay over obstacles?”
Paisley Park’s previous experience with headgear did not yield the desired result, but cheek pieces have been chosen to make him more focused and help him travel better for jockey Aidan Coleman.
“We do not put them on because he is fake or hiding something for himself, therefore it is not about having a visor to block everything, it is about doing something to make him concentrate a little more and prevent him in worrying about galloping with other horses and thinking more about traveling and what is going on in the race, “Lavelle said.
Paisley Park faces five rivals, including Indefatigable. Paul Webber’s mare got him back in third place when he won the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby four weeks ago. Olly Murphy-trained Thomas Darby, who finished fourth that day, is also in the mix.
Lisnagar Oscar, Stayers’ Hurdle winner in 2020, takes the chance as coach Rebecca Curtis with Nicky Henderson saddling On The Blind Side. The Irish raider, the Paul Nolan-trained Mrs. Milner, completes the sextet.
A small but selected field of four has been declared Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Novices’ Chase.
Tom Lacey’s Tea Clipper must give weight all the way after winning a Listed competition in Chepstow on his fencing debut last month. Paul Nicholls is represented by Pic d’Orhy, who did everything in a four-horse affair at Ffos Las.
Gary Moore-trained Nassalam, narrow winner of a novice handicap hunt at Ascot, and Alex Hales’ Millers Bank, comfortable winner at his hunting debut in Huntingdon, complete the quartet.