British champions’ trainer Paul Nicholls ended his long wait for another Cheltenham Festival winner when Stage Star stole it from the front in the Turners Novices’ Chase.
Winless since Politologue’s success in the 2020 Champion Chase, Nicholls has seen the likes of Tahmuras and Hermes Allen break out this week and took them on at 15/2 Stage Star against the mighty Irish on the third day opener. .
But jockey Harry Cobden was able to dictate things as market leaders Mighty Potter (4/6 favourite) and Appreciate It (3/1) were given patient rides behind.
There was little change in the order of things as the field headed for home, but Davy Russell soon sent distress signals to Mighty Potter as the pace picked up.
Paul Townend and Appreciate It came from behind in what looked like a dangerous move, before moving to the other side of the track.
Mighty Potter, meanwhile, went in the other direction, finding a second lease on life as he turned towards the stands.
Nothing could come of the winner though, with 40/1 outsider Notlongtillmay connecting gamely for second, ahead of Mighty Potter in third and Appreciate It in fourth.
“It’s been a tough week so far, but it’s a tough place,” Nicholls said. “We had a bit of bad luck yesterday with a couple, but that was brilliant.
Different track, slightly better terrain, it was always going to come in handy. I told Harry today ‘be positive, drive forward and ride him like the best horse in the race’. He gave her a peachy ride there.”