Daily Mail

Stage Star’s name up in lights after Nicholls ends 53-race losing streak

- MIKE DICKSON at Cheltenham

YOU needed to go back to the dark days of the 2020 meeting, at the dawn of the pandemic, for the last time that Paul Nicholls had a winner at the Festival. So the joy on his face which greeted the convincing victory of Stage Star in the Turners Novices’ Chase was hardly surprising. No less than 53 races had come and gone since Politologu­e came home in the Queen Mother Champion Chase three years ago. Yesterday’s scene was quite the contrast to 24 hours previously, when Hermes Allen had been a particular disappoint­ment in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. ‘It’s been a tough week so far but it’s a tough place. It’s not easy against the Irish battalions,’ said the 13-times champion trainer after watching his 15-2 shot jump faultlessl­y to win.

‘It was good for Harry (Cobden, the jockey) as he needed a confidence boost. That is a massive plus for him as he was quite down last night. ‘We were a bit unlucky yesterday but that was brilliant. I said to Harry, “Be positive, ride him like the best horse in the race”, and he gave him a peach of a ride.’

The Irish were soon back lording it over their hosts when 33-1 Sire Du Berlais caused a shock in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle with a late surge that saw him edge out fellow outsider Dashel Drasher, subsequent­ly demoted to third.

It was a notable triumph for jockey Mark Walsh in his comeback meeting, having broken a vertebra in his neck barely five weeks previously. ‘Of course it’s a surprise but Sire Du Berlais can do that — he’s either first or last,’ said trainer Gordon Elliott. Unfortunat­ely 6ft 4in Jack Andrews — the world’s tallest jockey — could not pull off an upset in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup which ended the day, and he pulled up Anightinla­mbourn.

He has another shot today on Not That Fuisse in the Hunters’ Chase that follows the Gold Cup.

 ?? ?? Tall story: Jack Andrews
Tall story: Jack Andrews

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