Horsing around: Hammer hoping for Festival success

  • by Staff Writer
  • Monday, 11th March 2019

A West Ham United supporter is hoping to become a Cheltenham Festival winner with a horse named after a recording studio once owned by Prince.

66-year-old Andrew Gemmell is the owner of hurdler Paisley Park, who has already recorded wins at Aintree, Haydock and Ascot this season.

And Gemmill - who has been registered blind since birth - is hoping to go one better when the gelding takes place in the Stayers' Hurdle this Thursday.

Embed from Getty Images

"It crosses my mind, what it would be like to win," Gemmell told the BBC's Frank Keogh. "But if you get too wound up you are going to get a pretty nasty shock if things go wrong. I tend to look at it glass half full to be honest. It's very exciting."

Gemmell - who cites Billy Bonds as his favourite West Ham player of all time - is a regular in Plaistow's Black Lion pub before home matches at the former Olympic Stadium.

He shares his passion for horses with the pub's Irish landlord, Tom Friel, with whom he co-owns Discorama - a horse set to feature in this week's National Hunt Chase. "They love racing in the pub," says Gemmell.

He has followed West Ham's fortunes since moving to London many years ago and admitted that the inspiration for Paisley Park's name came from a fascination with the former soul singer.

Embed from Getty Images

"I go to a massive amount of gigs," he revealed. "In a blind person, hearing may be a compensatory factor, I think that's possible. That sense might have been heightened for the one being lost.

"I read Braille. Unfortunately there is nothing to study the form, a lot of that stuff is done by memory and asking people. Some read me the Racing Post. I watch TV and keep it in my head."

Coverage of the Festival can be heard on Radio Five Live throughout the week, between 12-15 March.

* Something to say about this story? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

Related News