We all love an underdog story in horse racing. There can be nothing better than an old warrior rolling back the years to have just one more day in the sun. The retirement paddock may be on the horizon, but no one would begrudge them one more win – even if it proves to be to your own betting detriment.
Thankfully horse racing is full of such tales. Racing fans can always count on there being a story behind a story, and with the Cheltenham festival now just around the corner, it is a good time to unveil some of this year’s possible tear-jerkers.
At 11 years old, Paisley Park is one horse that fits the bill. Retirement might not be too far away for the hurdling legend, but he has shown this season that he still retains plenty of ability on his day and is likely to figure highly in supporters’ minds and even horse racing tips.
He has been a wonderful servant to trainer Emma Lavelle and owner Andrew Gemmell, running 25 times and finishing out of the first three just once. The old boy has 11 wins to his name, including in this race in 2019.
Just last month, Paisley Park rolled back the years to win the Long Walk Hurdle at Kempton, and he heads into this year’s Cheltenham festival as no forlorn hope.
Monalee (St. James’s Place Hunters’ Chase)
The 12-year-old, Monalee, has an extra backstory to his run at Cheltenham this year. Injury has curtailed the Henry de Bromhead-trained veteran’s career, and he will be making his return to action at the festival after over two years on the sidelines.
The front-running chaser has had four runs at Cheltenham in his stellar career and has never finished outside the first four in each of his appearances. He was runner-up on two occasions over hurdles, but perhaps his best performance came when finishing a close 4th in the 2020 Gold Cup.
His trainer has endured a tragic year personally, so a win for his stable stalwart would be sure to warm the hearts of even the most hardened racing fan.
Cheer Them Home
These are just two of many old warriors that are due to line up at this year’s festival, and a win for either would be sure to bring the house down.
You may well have picked the more fancied youngsters to grab the headlines in the big races, but you will inevitably find yourself cheering on these two if they turn into the final straight with a chance.
The excitement is building as the best National Hunt horses are put through their final paces for a tilt at Cheltenham glory. Having a winner at the festival is what everyone in the racing industry dreams of; let’s hope that Paisley Park and Monalee can make their connections and supporters proud this year.