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Press Release 25th January 2024 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Paul Nicholls believes the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase is the ‘perfect race’ for Grade One-winning hurdler Stay Away Fay to get some vital match practice over the fences at the Home of Jump Racing ahead of his return to the Cheltenham Festival in March.


Last season’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner, who will face five rivals in the Grade Two prize on Festival Trials Day (Saturday 27th January), has made the perfect start to his chasing career after following up his debut success over fences at Exeter with victory in the Grade Two Betfair Esher Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park last month.  


Despite the extended three miles one furlong contest, which Nicholls has won on a record five previous occasions, presenting a completely different test to anything Stay Away Fay has faced over fences so far the Ditcheat handler is confident he will pass the challenge. 


And although Nicholls has handed Stay Away Fay entries in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, the National Hunt Novices’ Chase and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at The Festival it is the latter he is aiming the Chris Giles and Dave Staddon-owned gelding at.


Nicholls, who is a Betfair ambassador, said: “He has got to go somewhere before the Cheltenham Festival and this gives him more time than if he goes to the Reynoldstown (Novices’ Chase) at Ascot and has a hard race. He has worked well and schooled well since Sandown and we are looking forward to it. 


“This race has always been on my mind for him. For a horse like him it is the perfect race. He might have to take on some better ones, but apart from Royale Pagaille there are no real Gold Cup horses in there. 


“This would do him good and it is all good experience and that is what you need. He has not been over fences around Cheltenham and that is why we are quite keen to do it. 


“He is fit, stays well and he is in good order and we think he will run a nice race. I’ve given him an entry in the National Hunt Chase and Gold Cup, but I would say he would be one for the Brown Advisory at the Festival after this.” 


Of the remainder of Nicholls team that will head to Cheltenham at the weekend Il Ridoto will bid to go one better than in last month’s Virgin Bet December Gold Cup Handicap Chase at the track when bidding for a repeat victory in the Paddy Power Cheltenham Countdown Podcast Handicap Chase. 


The seven-year-old will be joined in the extended two and a half miles Premier Handicap by stablemate Hitman


He said: “Il Ridoto ran very well in the December Gold Cup when he just got chinned on the line by Fugitif. He won the race last year and he is in good shape. He likes the new course and we are hopeful of a nice run. 


“I had thought about running Hitman in the Denman Chase at Newbury, but we have decided to come here and claim five pounds off his back with Freddie Gingell.”


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