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Stage Star aiming for Challow Hurdle triumph at Newbury Racecourse for Paul Nicholls and Owners Group

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Members of the Owners Group will be hoping for a late Christmas bonus when Stage Star bids for Grade 1 glory in the MansionBet Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbuy on Wednesday, December 29.

From the stable of champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, Stage Star is the latest up-and-coming horse to represent the successful syndicate, which offers a taste of racehorse ownership for a small one-off fee.

He is one of 12 entries alongside last-time-out Grade 2 winners Lossiemouth, trained by Tom Lacey, and Ginto, one of two who could represent Gordon Elliott in the prestigious prize, whose alumni include Bravemansgame, Thyme Hill, Champ, Barters Hill and Taquin Du Seuil.

Stage Star remains on course for the Grade 1 showdown at Newbury Racecourse
Stage Star remains on course for the Grade 1 showdown at Newbury Racecourse

Stage Star, Grade 2-placed at bumper level, has made a smooth transition to hurdles, winning both starts including over course and distance at the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, where he ran out an easy winner.

He is taking the same route as stablemate Bravemansgame who won the corresponding race a year earlier before going on to win the 2020 MansionBet Challow Hurdle.

“We have been very happy with Stage Star and this race has been the plan for a while,” said Owners Group racing manager Dan Downie.

“Obviously this is a much bigger ask but we have always liked him.”

Owners Group have won 146 races with the team enjoying Cheltenham Festival success when Pentland Hills landed the Triumph Hurdle in 2019 for his 3,000 shareholders who had paid £57 each.

Also likely to tackle the £60,000 prize is trainer Olly Murphy, who has entered both Doctor Ken and Go Dante.

The pair last ran at Ascot in November with mixed results.

Doctor Ken won his race and Go Dante finished second in a separate contest, for which he started the 2-7 favourite after winning his previous start by 18 lengths.

“They are two horses that I have always thought plenty of,” said Murphy. “They both want a bit of rain. Doctor Ken hasn’t done a lot wrong over hurdles and I’ve always thought the world of Go Dante.

“Go Dante would be on a bit of a retrieval mission, but I believe in him a lot. He was beaten after he jumped one hurdle at Ascot. He came back with a few little issues. Hopefully we will see a better horse now he is in full health and over this longer trip.

He added: “It looks like a very good renewal of the Challow and I’ll be looking at it for both of them. Neither want two miles. I will definitely run one and I wouldn’t be surprised if I ran two.”

Clerk of the Course for Newbury, Keith Ottesen, said: “We are currently between Good and Good to Soft and are expecting some rain over the weekend. Next week looks to be staying mild with the odd shower so it should be perfect jumping ground.”

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