02 March 2023

Stage Star’s Cheltenham role yet to be cast

02 March 2023

Connections are still open minded about a Cheltenham Festival target for talented novice chaser Stage Star.

The seven-year-old was a Grade One-winning hurdler who made a great start to his career over fences when landing a Warwick novice on debut by 13 lengths for trainer Paul Nicholls.

He was the runner-up next time out in a Newbury Grade Two in November, but won once again at Plumpton in early January and then secured a third chasing success at Cheltenham on Trials day.

A return to Prestbury Park is next on the agenda for the gelding, who holds entries for the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices’ Chases.

The latter is over his proven two-and-a-half-mile-trip, whereas the former would involve a step up to three miles and half a furlong.

Connections are yet to decide which path the bay will take, with the ground likely to be a factor in the decision.

Dan Downie of Owners Group said: “I spoke to Paul this morning and we haven’t decided what we’ll do yet.

“He’s in good form and we’re very happy with him, we’ll have a discussion next week and make a plan with him.

“There’s a possibility it could be ground dependent, we haven’t had much rain and we’re not likely to get any, so we’ll have to see where that leaves us.”

Either way, Stage Star’s most recent win provided valuable evidence of his ability to perform at Cheltenham, with his only previous run at the track being a pulled-up effort in the 2022 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

“He jumped really well, he relaxed and it was similar to how he jumped round when he won at Warwick earlier in the season,” Downie said of the Trials day run.

“It was really good to see him in form, he’s a great jumper and he’s got loads of scope.

“It was good to see him perform on that track as well because that was previously a bit of a question mark – whether or not Cheltenham would really be his track.

“His previous best runs have been at places like Newbury, but I think he coped with it beautifully.”

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