Reports17 March 2023

Harry Cobden's confidence pays off as Stay Away Fay springs an Albert Bartlett surprise

Stay Away Fay (pink) jumps the last while Corbetts Cross, (left) crashes out through the wing
Stay Away Fay (pink) jumps the last as Corbetts Cross crashes out through the wingCredit: Michael Steele

Paul Nicholls told everyone who would listen at preview nights that Stay Away Fay had a chance but the market completely missed him. 

Really, we all should have known better. The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle has a well-earned reputation for throwing up surprises and there had only been one winner of this race at single-figure odds in the previous nine years before Stay Away Fay powered up the hill to come home at 18-1.

In doing so, the seven-year-old denied some short-priced rivals including the favourite Corbetts Cross, who was bought by JP McManus before the festival and looked like he was coming with a strong challenge before crashing through the wing of the last hurdle.

"He didn't have the same profile as the others coming into this but you often need an improving horse," said Nicholls after winning his second Grade 1 in as many days. "I thought a lot of him. He's just been a bit backwards but I was sure he'd run well.

"I felt he would win turning in because he's a very strong stayer. I knew he wouldn't stop. He's a smart young horse who probably should have won last time. He's taken a real step forward and looked fantastic. We rode him very positively. He jumped really well and it's only his third run under rules so we hope there's plenty of improvement."

Stay Away Fay won on his debut at Newbury in November before finishing second at Doncaster in January under Lorcan Williams but that performance was not enough to dent the confidence of jockey Harry Cobden, who said: "I really fancied him. I thought he had a massive chance coming into this race. 

"First time out he was green but stayed on and beat a nice horse of Dan Skelton's. Lorcan was a bit unlucky on him last time. Paul has then put him away and trained him for one day. The thing that made me fancy him even more was when Kilbricken Storm won the race I thought this horse was a lot better than he was, which gave me more confidence in him today."

Harry Cobden salutes the crowd aboard Stay Away Fay
Harry Cobden salutes the crowd aboard Stay Away FayCredit: Michael Steele

That confidence was justified when Stay Away Fay toughed it out to finish a length clear of 150-1 shot Affordale Fury with Sandor Clegane, sent off at 28-1, claiming third.

"They went a good even gallop but he sits a little bit high in the bridle," added Cobden. "He travelled well and jumped brilliantly. Turning in I thought I had a nice bit left and he was going to stay all the way to the line. He got a good jump at the last but he idled a bit in front. He's very tough and is obviously a good horse. It's a long way to be in front from turning into the last, especially for an inexperienced horse, but he did well."

Stay Away Fay, a three-mile point-to-point winner, will be sent chasing next season and was cut to 10-1 (from 50) for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase by Paddy Power. "He should improve for a summer off," added Nicholls. "We'll see how he comes out of this but I suspect we'll give him a run at Aintree next month before sending him chasing."

Affordale Fury's display came as no surprise to Noel Meade, who said: "He was only 150-1 because he was pulled up last time. We ran him too soon after he fell at Navan. He's a brilliant jumper and I think he'll be a very good chaser.

"When you come here you're always hoping to run into the money. I think the third horse might have been a bit unlucky but we've had a good run and Sam Ewing gave him a great ride. We might wait for the three-mile novice hurdle at Punchestown."

Read these next: 

Lossiemouth kickstarts huge day for Willie Mullins as she leads stable 1-2-3-4 in Triumph 

'A dream come true' - 33-1 Faivoir and Bridget Andrews give Dan Skelton a fourth County Hurdle success  

Paul Kealy tipped a 20-1 winner at Cheltenham - get our top betting advice now with 50% off for three months 

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Jonathan HardingReporter
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 18:53, 17 March 2023