The road to the winner’s enclosure
THURSDAY 3.05 PADDY POWER STAYERS’ HURDLE
PAISLEY PARK came into the 2020 Stayers’ Hurdle bidding to become the first back-to-back winner since the brilliant Big Buck’s. As the 4-6 favourite, he was on course to be one of the shortest-priced winners of the race in history. But it was not to be, as we saw the biggest shock of the meeting in the shape of Lisnagar Oscar at 50-1. The Rebecca Curtis-trained seven-year-old showed promise as a novice before finishing a well-beaten fifth in the 2019 Albert Bartlett. He started last season over fences, twice beaten in October before being sent back over hurdles to finish 23 lengths behind Stoney Mountain in a Grade 3 handicap at Haydock. After falling in a Pertemps qualifier at Warwick in January, he ran a solid race to finish third in the Cleeve Hurdle, four and a half lengths behind Paisley Park. As an outsider, Lisnagar Oscar was not top of the list for many punters, with previous festival winners Apple’s Jade, Summerville Boy, Penhill and City Island all among the opposition to Paisley Park. As Apple’s Jade set a strong early pace, Adam Wedge sat quietly in midfield on Lisnagar Oscar, just behind the favourite and out of danger. Lit up by blinkers, Apple’s Jade was eight length clear of the field with a lap to go, stretching that to ten lengths-plus down the back straight. But at the penultimate flight there was just a length between the leader and the chasing pack, headed by Lisnagar Oscar and Summerville Boy. Turning for home, Summerville Boy tried to sneak up the inside of Apple’s Jade as Lisnagar Oscar went the widest route, with several others starting to pick up. Jumping the final flight, it was a fight between Curtis’s 50-1 shot and Matthew Smith’s 20-1 hope Ronald Pump, with the former jumping the better, staying on up the hill and taking a gruelling contest.