Stage Star provides Paul Nicholls with more Challow Hurdle success at Newbury after dominant display
Paul Nicholls made it a record-equalling fourth victory in the Grade 1 MansionBet Challow Novices' Hurdle as Stage Star won by six-and-a-half lengths at Newbury.
Following on from Bravemansgame winning this race 12 months ago, Nicholls and Harry Cobden teamed up for the win.
Denman (2005) and Cornish Rebel (2003) are the other two to have handed Nicholls success in the race.
“It was by far the best performance he has given, he has obviously got better and fitter and we were very happy going into the race.
“Harry was very surprised with how well he won because he stays and he’s got so much speed, so all in all it was a great performance for a horse who will be a lovely chaser in time,” admitted the Ditcheat handler.
Nicholls compared Stage Star to where Bravemansgame was last season and has talked about a similar route as the latter, who most recently won the Grade 1 Kauto Star Chase at Kempton.
"The most exciting time with this horse is when he starts jumping fences, like Bravemansgame, and he could follow a similar route.
“He’s needed a little bit of time and we haven’t been too serious with him until the last run because we knew it would be a tough test today and we’ll need a little break after this to let him get over it.
“The way he quickened up at the back of the last was really good, but today was always a target and we’ll think about what we do with him in the future.”
Bravemansgame finished third in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in March and it is a possibility for Stage Star, although Nicholls admitted he won’t be afraid of missing Cheltenham if needed.
“I’ll talk to the team and monitor what is happening with the horses in Ireland and I am not afraid of waiting until Aintree with him.
“You want to go to Cheltenham and win, you don’t want to go to finish fifth or sixth and give yourself a hard race.
“You’ve got to be competitive and I have learned that more so over the last few years, but if you can win at Cheltenham we’ll be there.”
Elsewhere, Saint Palais extended his unbeaten run to three when winning a Handicap Chase for Hampshire-based trainer Richard Bandey.
Bandey is situated at Plantation Farm, close to Kingsclere, and he was thrilled with how the race was won.
“He has been working well at home and we were confident and although we thought he’d improve at home we knew it was a big step up.
“It was going to be a test and he jumped the last really well and knuckled down and I am over the moon.
“It's fantastic for Tim and Charlotte Syde for their support because it’s a local track for them and for me - it is very special.”
Meanwhile, Dashel Drasher returned to winning ways in the MansionBet Handicap Hurdle and there was another local winner on the day as Gran Luna won the Mares' Handicap Hurdle for Nicky Henderson.
It was a day for the favourites at Newbury as the Fergal O’Brien-trained Peking Rose returned to the winners enclosure, while Gallic Geordie and Grumpy Charley also made all the running in their respective races.