Stay Away Fay provides Albert Bartlett with a pleasant surprise as a result of Harry Cobden’s self-assurance.
At preview nights, Paul Nicholls informed everyone who listened that Stay Away Fay had a chance, but the market completely missed him.
In all honesty, we should have all known better. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has a well-deserved reputation for surprising winners, and prior to Stay Away Fay’s power up the hill and 18-1 victory, this race had only had one winner at odds of just one figure in the previous nine years.
By doing so, the seven-year-old horse prevented the favourite Corbetts Cross, who was purchased by JP McManus prior to the festival and appeared to be coming with a strong challenge before crashing through the last hurdle’s wing, from winning.
“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 finished second at Doncaster in January under Lorcan Williams, but that performance was not enough to shake jockey Harry Cobden’s confidence, as he stated: “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.”
Stay Away Fay’s perseverance paid off when he finished a length ahead of Affordale Fury, a 150-1 shot, with Sandor Clegane, who was disqualified at 28-1, taking 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.”