In the end it was Harry Cobden’s mount who held off fellow point-to-point graduate Affordale Fury by a length.
A first Grade 1 victory for the son of Shantou on just this third start under rules having begun his career in a four-year-old geldings’ maiden at Lingstown when under the care of Matthew Flynn O’Connor, before he was sold to current owners Chris Giles and Dave Staddon for £305,000.
%uD83C%uDFC7 Stay Away Fay wins a frantic Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 17, 2023
%uD83D%uDE2E Chaos at the last but it looks like everyone is ok!#ITVRacing | #CheltenhamFestival | @PFNicholls pic.twitter.com/04g3XNHYsj
“He’s a very smart young horse, and he’ll improve for the summer," Nicholls said. "I knew he would win turning in, because he’s a very, very strong stayer. Well, I hoped he’d win, because I knew he wouldn’t stop.
“I thought he would run really well. He’s a smart young horse who probably should have won the last day [at Doncaster in January], and has taken a real step forward since then. He looked fantastic and to me he ran how he looked.
“We rode him a little bit differently today - very positively - and he jumped very well. That was only his third race under Rules and there’s lots of improvement to come from him. He’s really good, though. Having had two winners, I’m now really relaxed [about the Gold Cup] - it makes such a difference.”