The 146-rated gelding put his chasing experience to good use against last season's Grade One Challow Hurdle winner, who had won readily on his chasing debut at Warwick. Stage Star, sent off the 2-7 favourite, made most of the running, at times jumping with aplomb, although he hung and markedly ran down his fences down the final straight. However, the Tom Lacey-trained Sebastopol, who had been pulled up at Wincanton last time, travelled well and was always stalking the pace under Stan Sheppard. The pair were locked together at the last of the 16 fences in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, and Sheppard's mount flew the last to quicken clear, as Stage Star veered left towards the far rail. The 22-1 chance went on to score by five lengths, with Wonderwall, making his chasing debut, a promising third, some three lengths further back. Sheppard told Racing TV: "I got the perfect position. He is a horse who doesn't want to be in front too long. Today, the plan was to follow Harry (Cobden) and when he started quickening leaving the back straight, I was able to stay behind him and roust my lad up a bit and getting him a good view of him until two out. "I thought three out, I was going well three out. I know we had to give Stage Star weight, but we were actually 3lb higher on official ratings and I thought 22-1 was a bit on an insult. "I don't know what happened the last day. He was perhaps unsuited by the track and the ground was bit slippy and any excuse not to do it, he wouldn't take much persuading. "He has heaps of ability and finished second seven times in a row before he started winning, so when everything clicks and goes the right way he is a good horse." Owned by Clive and Charmaine Boultebee Brooks, Sebastopol will lose his novice chasing status at the end of November, and the winning trainer added: "It was a nice opportunity for him. "We'll have to have another little think after today, but he is ground dependent and we were thinking we'd come here and give him a break with a view to campaigning him relatively aggressively in the spring. "We're dictated by the weather. These autumns are becoming longer and the springs are maybe becoming wetter. In the depths of winter he'll definitely just be on tick-over and there are no plans in concrete at the moment. "If the ground is nice at Cheltenham or Aintree he could go there and Clive would probably like to go to Galway if there's a race there, something like that."
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