Victory has never sounded so good for Gemmell as Paisley Park is cheered home
Watching Andrew Gemmell become immersed in a race is something to behold. Blind from birth, he has a different experience compared to the majority of racegoers but he savours every moment, especially when his pride and joy Paisley Park is the focus.
Everyone wanted a piece of Gemmell at Cheltenham on Thursday; ITV, RTV and Radio 5 Live queued up to hear from the owner of the Stayers’ Hurdle favourite but, come post time, he was surrounded by half a dozen friends in the parade ring.
While his buddies were glued to the big screen, Gemmell stood head bowed, listening intently to the concise commentary of race caller Ian Bartlett.
“To be honest, I won’t speak to him during the race,” Tony Hunt, one of Gemmell’s closest friends, explained later. “He wants to listen to the commentary and gets annoyed if I start saying, ‘He’s going to win, he’s going to win’.”
It wasn't the easiest race to watch or listen to from a Paisley Park perspective, the strong stayer hitting his customary flat spot earlier than usual, but as he started to make ground and the name checks from Bartlett became more frequent, Gemmell was engrossed in the moment, fists clenched and urging Paisley Park to the front.
With those around him unable to contain their excitement, the commentary was drowned out as the race reached its crescendo but, with all the cheering, Gemmell knew the dream was alive.
The last jump wasn't pretty but with Paisley Park maintaining his lead the cheers were getting louder. A storm of back slaps and hugs followed and the dream result was reality for his owner.
“I can’t believe this has happened and I’m just so chuffed – it’s fantastic,” said Gemmell in the immediate aftermath.
“He’s in the Big Buck’s/Baracouda mould – he hits that flat spot but comes again. I was so nervous and can’t believe it’s happened.”
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