Owner In Focus - Andrew Gemmell
It is hard to know who is more famous, Paisley Park or his dedicated owner Andrew Gemmell, the pair have touched the heart of racing, nationwide.
Having first attended York races with his parents in the school holidays Andrew has always loved the atmosphere and it was a long-held dream fulfilled when Emma
Lavelle told him about a horse called Paisley Park that was looking for an owner – the rest, as they say, is history.
Born without his eyesight Andrew’s relationship with his horses is unequivocal.
Having won the Long Walk Hurdle back in December, after a gargantuan effort from the home bend, Paisley returned to the paddock and was led to the parade ring fencing where he nuzzled Andrew as his proud owner gave him a congratulatory stroke.
“He always seems to know when it’s me and is kind and gentle.”
Asking Andrew how many horses he owns is akin to asking a lady how many pairs of shoes she owns, with Andrew answering, “I think it’s about 20 but I only own bits
and pieces of most of those.” Asked if there was a horse that he would like to own he states Monkfish would top the list.
Although his most famous relationship is with Paisley, Andrews interests lie also in Flat racing and each year he travels to Australia to attend the Melbourne Cup
which, when asked, is also the race he would love to win. He has had ‘interests’ in horses that have run in it, most recently Trip to Paris, and this would be the cherry
on the cake if one day this could be added to his collection.
There are many owners who have little involvement in the day to day activities of their horses but Andrew has one tradition that he tries to follow “I always try and
visit Paisley at home before he is due to run, I take him and De Rasher Counter some polo’s and make a fuss of them at Emma Lavelle’s yard in Wiltshire. Paisley is
a kind and gentle horse, always polite and pleased to see me. De Rasher Counter gently takes his mints then bangs on the door if I try and walk away.”
Having unexpectantly finished down the field in the 2020 Stayers’ Hurdle due to an issue with his heart, Paisley’s return to the track this season was always going to be tinged with worry for all connections but he made his return to the track at Newbury in November. He showed that he was back to himself as he battled it out with Thyme Hill to be pipped at the post, but he then went on to reverse that result in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot weeks later, a race Andrew says was the highlight of his season.
“It was just incredible, and I felt very fortunate to be able to be there.”
Paisley battled on at Cheltenham last week for 3rd place but finished in one piece and healthy and will now be aimed at Aintree, where Covid regulations allowing, Andrew will once again be there to soak up the atmosphere, be amongst his fellow owners and be back doing what he has loved for over 50 years.