MARLBOROUGH-based trainer Emma Lavelle says everything has gone smoothly so far as she prepares Paisley Park for the defence of his Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle crown on Thursday.

There is always a degree of goodwill when a champion emerges who is not trained by one of the superpowers, and so far Paisley Park has looked head and shoulders above the rivals he is set to face.

The scenes surrounding his victory 12 months ago, with his blind owner Andrew Gemmell listening intently to the commentary as he careered away after the final flight, were among the best of the week and plenty make him their banker of the Festival this season.

Paisley arrives unbeaten in his last seven races, but the only mild irritation for Lavelle was the very heavy ground at the Long Walk Hurdle meaning he was a late absentee – though she now views that as a positive.

“Everything is fine with Paisley,” said Lavelle.

“We have had a good preparation with him. It was a great relief to see him win at Newbury, and then Ascot being off worked out well in the end.

“His Cheltenham performance in the Cleeve was excellent. He essentially handled a race where the others tried to beat him tactically.

“He is a huge talent and it is exciting to have a horse attempting to defend his crown in one of the championship races.”

Elsewhere. Stroud trainer Tom George’s Summerville Boy got closer than most do to Paisley Park in the Cleeve Hurdle on what was his first run over three miles.

As a former Festival winner, he is likely to have plenty of supporters.

George said: “He has been improving all season since going back over hurdles and he is as good as we can have him. He has come on a lot and really found his feet since his last run.

“He is one of the most likely to put it up to Paisley Park. He has only had the one run over three miles and he can only improve on what he has done so far.

“That was a good stepping stone and there should be further improvement. We can change a few things round to give Paisley Park our best shot.

“We all thought he would stay, but you never know until you see it. What is good about him is he will get the trip, but as we have seen, he has the class to win a race like the Supreme which bodes well for him.”