McCoy Contractors Cleeve Hurdle
Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:00
£70,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
2m 7f 213y, Class 1  
Saturday 27th January 2024

Trainers Quotes

1 Noble Yeats 3/1
2 Paisley Park 11/4F
3 Strong Leader 11/1
7 ran Distances: hd, 1l, 2l
Time: 6m 9.46s (slow by 23.46s)

In a thrilling conclusion at Cheltenham, Grand National winner Noble Yeats thwarted Paisley Park's quest for a fourth victory in the race.

Trainer Emmet Mullins, known for his unconventional approach, had the 2022 Aintree hero making only his third appearance over hurdles in this particular contest. With regular jockey Sean Bowen sidelined, Harry Cobden took over for the ride. At the halfway mark, it appeared that Noble Yeats, positioned in the middle of Dashel Drasher, Champ, and Botox Has, was struggling to keep pace.

The dynamics of the race shifted dramatically at the final hurdle. Noble Yeats, Paisley Park, and Strong Leader, who had been trailing significantly at one point, re-entered the fray. Noble Yeats managed to secure a few lengths after the last obstacle, but Paisley Park continued to make a relentless late surge after initially losing ground.

In a valiant effort by the popular veteran, the finish line arrived just a fraction too soon, resulting in a narrow defeat by a head for Paisley Park.

Trainers Quotes

“It was a brilliant race with two, tough, genuine horses running right to the line – I think other people may have enjoyed it more than I did,” said Mullins.

“I’d imagine we’ll be back here in March and we had to come here and do that to lay down our claim. He will be in with a shout and all roads will lead back to the National again after that.

“Since we started back this year, this has kind of been the route (we were thinking). I said to Robert (Waley-Cohen, owner) before we ran this year, we would go for the Stayers’ first (before the National) and skip the Gold Cup. I think people were surprised when they saw he didn’t have an entry for the Gold Cup but the Stayers’ Hurdle has been the plan all season.

“He stays well and the New course here lends itself to that kind of running and galloping, it’s a thorough test on that track and that suits him.”

Noble Yeats had not got his head in front since winning the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December 2022 and Mullins was pleased to get a win on the board, feeling his charge’s limitations had been exposed at the top level over fences last term.

He added: “It’s great to see him get his head back in-front again and they were serious tests we asked him in the Gold Cup, Grand National and in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, he ran a great race there and picked up some more prize-money and he didn’t come home without a cheque all year. It’s great to give him some confidence.

“We’ve had our crack at the Gold Cup and got put in our place and we’re probably 10lb off the top in that bracket, so the Stayers’ is the next logical place to look and, fingers crossed, we’re in with a chance.

“There are no rules in this game and it is great to use all the great races.”

Paisley Park was registering his third narrow defeat of the campaign, having been beaten a head in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and a short head in the Long Walk at Ascot last month.

Emma Lavelle’s pride in her charge was evident and she was touched by the reception Paisley Park received on returning to the unsaddling enclosure.

“The crowd lift him, but just not enough, we need them to shout louder,” she said.

“It’s the most emotional thing and the noise of the people calling for him and shouting for him, we just need him to try harder. He’s 12 years old and has just been beaten a head in his fifth Cleeve Hurdle and how am I ever going to have a horse like that.

“I was fine, then I walked in there (the winner’s enclosure) and people started shouting how much they love Paisley and now I just want to start crying. He is so special and he just tries his heart out.

“Maybe he’s just saving himself for the big one (Stayers’ Hurdle), but it will be a tough gig and I felt today might have been his real day this year.

“To consistently be coming out this season running like that means he’s still got it.

“They didn’t go much of a gallop and they were all sort of on top of each other and then quickened and he’s got caught for toe and then all he’s done is stay on again. He just needs an even gallop.

“I think all he’s done is stay on and just been done for a bit of toe.”

Horses 468x60 Jpg

McCoy Contractors Cleeve Hurdle
£70,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 7f 213y, Class 1
7 ran
Going: Good to Soft

1    Noble Yeats 9 11-2 Emmet Mullins Harry Cobden 3/1
hd Paisley Park 12 11-8 Emma Lavelle Tom Bellamy 11/4F
1 Strong Leader 7 11-2 Olly Murphy Gavin Sheehan 11/1
2 Dashel Drasher 11 11-8 Jeremy Scott Rex Dingle 4/1
shd Champ 12 11-8 Nicky Henderson Jonjo O'Neill Jr 7/1
Botox Has 8 11-8 Gary Moore Caoilin Quinn 13/2
17 Flight Deck 10 11-2 Deborah Cole Chris Ward 20/1

Year Horse Owner Trainer Weight Jockey SP

1990 Beech Road Tony Geake Toby Balding 8-12-00 Richard Guest 1/3 f
1991 Crystal Spirit Paul Mellon Ian Balding 4-10-09 Jimmy Frost 4/1
1992 Abandoned
1993 Muse White Horse Racing Ltd David Elsworth 6-11-08 Paul Holley 11/4
1994 Flakey Dove John Price Richard Price 8-11-03 Richard Dunwoody 4/1 cf
1995 Mudahim K W Bell Chris Broad 9-11-08 Norman Williamson 13/2
1996 Abandoned
1997 Large Action Brian Stewart-Brown Oliver Sherwood 9-11-08 Jamie Osborne 8/15 f
1998 Mistinguett John Duggan Nigel Twiston-Davies 6-11-03 Carl Llewellyn 100/30
1999 Lady Rebecca Kinnersley Optimists Venetia Williams 7-11-03 Norman Williamson 6/4 f
2000 Lady Rebecca Kinnersley Optimists Venetia Williams 8-11-03 Norman Williamson Evens f
2001 Lady Rebecca Kinnersley Optimists Venetia Williams 9-11-03 Norman Williamson 7/1
2002 Kates Charm Norma Kelly Robert Alner 9-11-03 Mick Fitzgerald 3/1
2003 Classified David Johnson Martin Pipe 7-11-08 Tony McCoy 8/11 f
2004 Crystal D’Ainay Tony & Jeni Fisher Alan King 5-11-04 Jimmy McCarthy Evens f
2005 Patriarch Express A W Muir Sue Smith 8-11-00 Jim Culloty 8/1
2006 Fire Dragon Gay Smith Jonjo O’Neill 5-11-00 Tony McCoy 16/1
2007 Blazing Bailey Three Line Whip Alan King 5-11-00 Robert Thornton 14/1
2008 Inglis Drever Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson 9-11-08 Richard Johnson 11/8 f
2009 Big Buck’s The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls 6-11-00 Ruby Walsh 7/2
2010 Tidal Bay Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson 6-11-00 Brian Hughes 14/1
2011 Grands Crus Roger Stanley & Yvonne Reynolds III David Pipe 6-11-04 Tom Scudamore 2/1 f
2012 Big Buck’s The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls 9-11-08 Ruby Walsh 1/4 f
2013 Reve De Sivola Paul Duffy Diamond Partnership Nick Williams 8-11-08 Richard Johnson 15/8 f
2014 Knockara Beau Alistair Charlton George Charlton 11-11-00 Jan Faltejsek 66/1
2015 Saphir Du Rheu The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls 6-11-04 Sam Twiston-Davies 3/1
2016 Thistlecrack John & Heather Snook Colin Tizzard 8-11-08 Tom Scudamore 4/5f
2017 Unowhatimeanharry J P McManus Harry Fry 9-11-08 Barry Geraghty 10/11 f
2018 Agrapart The Gascoigne Brookes P’ship Nick Williams 7-11-06 Lizzie Kelly 9/1
2019 Paisley Park Andrew Gemmell Emma Lavelle 7-11-06 Aidan Coleman 100/30f
2020 Paisley Park Andrew Gemmell Emma Lavelle 8-11-06 Aidan Coleman 4/6f
2022 Paisley Park Andrew Gemmell Emma Lavelle 10 11-6 Aidan Coleman 5/1
2023 Gold Tweet Agv Karwin Stud, Gabriel Leenders Et Al Gabriel Leenders 6 11-2 Johnny Charron 14/1