British champion trainer Paul Nicholls ended his long wait for another Cheltenham Festival winner as Stage Star stole it from the front in the Turners Novices’ Chase.
Winless since Politologue’s 2020 Champion Chase success, Nicholls has seen the likes of Tahmuras and Hermes Allen blow out this week and looked up against it with 15/2 shot Stage Star against the might of the Irish in the opener on day three.
But, jockey Harry Cobden was able to dictate matters as market leaders Mighty Potter (4/6 favourite) and Appreciate It (3/1) were given patient rides in behind.
There was little change to the order of things as the field turned for home, but Davy Russell was soon sending out distress signals on Mighty Potter as the pace lifted.
Paul Townend and Appreciate It came from the rear with a dangerous-looking move, before hanging badly across to the far side of the track.
Mighty Potter, meanwhile, went in the other direction, finding a second lease of life as he veered towards the stands.
Nothing was able to get to the winner though, with 40/1 outsider Notlongtillmay plugging on bravely 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,” said Nicholls. “We were a little bit unlucky yesterday with a couple, but that was brilliant.
Different track, slightly better ground, it was always going to suit us. I said to Harry today ‘be positive, bowl along in front and ride him like the best horse in the race’. He gave him a peach of a ride there.”