Paul Nicholls chalks up another Grade 1 Cheltenham win with Stay Away Fay in Albert Bartlett

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Harry Cobden steered Stay Away Fay to a superb win in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle to give Paul Nicholls his second Grade One victory of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival. The 18/1 chance travelled well throughout and was always up with the pace in the three-mile test, which provided its usual searching test of stamina. It was not without incident, either, as favourite Corbetts Cross ran out at the final flight, sending jockey Mark Walsh crashing to the turf. Though challenging at the time, the winner seemed to have his measure having led at the second-last where plenty were still in with a chance. Cobden put the six-year-old's stamina to good use and gradually wore down his rivals to give the champion trainer his first success in the race. Noel Meade's Affordale Fury (150/1) relished the step up in trip and got within a length of the winner, just holding second from the Paul Nolan-trained Sandor Clegane. Nicholls said: "I thought he'd run well as he should have won the last day and he's taken a step forward since then and he looked fantastic. "We were very positive on him today, he jumped really well and it's only the third run of his life, there's loads of improvement to come. "We'll probably go to Aintree with him if he's all right, otherwise it will be chasing next year. "He's been quite backward, that's the best he's jumped today, he's just a young, improving horse." He added: "At home he does all his work with Hermes Allen as they are both a bit one-paced and he has taken a big step forward. "He probably should have won at Doncaster, he's improved since and it's just fantastic. "I think Hermes Allen will probably have a wind op but he'll go chasing too, they are two really nice horses to go chasing with." Meade said of the runner-up: "He was only 150-1 because he virtually pulled up the last day and there were reasons for that. "He got a fall when they went too quick in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan in November - they went a mad gallop and he ended up on the floor. "He probably would have won that day had he stood up and then we ran him back within four weeks in the Grade One at Naas and it was too soon - he just bombed out. "We freshened him up and he is a very, very good horse. I think he'll be a right good chaser as he's a good jumper and a good stayer and he got the most brilliant ride today from a young fella (Sam Ewing)." Paul Nolan was slightly left wondering what might have been with Sandor Clegane. He said: "It was a big run. We knew he was better than his run in Leopardstown and he had to go to the line better than he did that day. "He probably didn't get the run of the race today. He got hampered at the very first and then he was shuffled back to last and pushed out wide. I'd like to look at the race again, but I think maybe he might have been the unlucky one. "You're always happy when you get a cheer at some stage. He ran well and he stays well and he remains an exciting prospect. "I just thought the way he closed to the line after the distance he had to make up and being wide, we were unlucky, but it is what it is."

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