Ditcheat chief Paul Nicholls is hoping that Stage Star can become the first British winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle since 2017 as he confirmed the Challow victor would head for the larger obstacles next season.
The son of Fame And Glory recorded facile successes at Chepstow and Newbury before securing Grade 1 honours at the latter-mentioned course at the end of 2021, with all eyes now set on a debut at Prestbury Park in less than two weeks’ time.
There is uncertainty as to the direction of Willie Mullins’ duo Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo, with both expected to be split between the Tuesday and Wednesday openers, respectively, with Ginto and Journey With Me also bidding to maintain their unbeaten records over timber.
But Nicholls believes the best could yet still be to come from his representative.
He told At The Races: “He was a good bumper horse last year and was always going to be a better horse this year. He’s won all three of his novice hurdles and you just wouldn’t know how good he might be.
“He was ready to go to Exeter a fortnight ago, but the ground was so heavy that day and I didn’t want to give him a hard race, so we’ve just kept him nice and fresh.
“He had a piece of work at Wincanton 10 days ago and went very nicely with Monmiral.
“He’s probably one of our best chances of the week, I would say, and whatever happens he’ll be a lovely horse to go chasing next season.”