Dozens of racing fans won their dream ticket to a major festival when Stage Star routed top level opposition at Newbury.
Wearing their colourful scarves, the Owners Group syndicate cheered home the MansionBet Challow Novices’ Hurdle winner.
The noise did not stop at the finish, as members packed out the winners’ enclosure and its vicinity to welcome back the 5-4 favourite.
By comparison to his many supporters, Stage Star cut a very calm figure in the aftermath, walking around as if he hardly had a race.
Trainer Paul Nicholls will assess the Irish contingent before committing his “very exciting” winner to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Although Stage Star was a big market mover (8-1 from 20-1 with Paddy Power), lucky syndicate members who secured a low cost share might be waiting for Aintree instead.
“You want to go to Cheltenham and win – you don’t want to go to Cheltenham and finish fifth or sixth do you? Give yourself a hard race unnecessarily,” he said.
“You have got to be competitive. I have learned that even more so over the last few years.”
Nicholls has 17 horses for the Owners Group, who struck at both the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree in 2019 with Pentland Hills.
Each syndicate has up to 3,000 shares, giving racing enthusiasts the chance to be an owner at a fraction of the normal cost.
Winning jockey Harry Cobden mentioned Stage Star in the same breath as Bravemansgame, last season’s Challow hero, who has hit the heights over fences.
“He’s improving and impressing us more with every run,” the rider said.
“He’s got loads of ability but he’s got a great mind and attitude with it – he’s so easy to ride and to do at home.
“He wouldn’t be a million miles away from the sort of horse Bravemansgame was a season ago. They’re two lovely, lovely horses.”
In Ireland, Sharjah joined hurdling greats Hurricane Fly and Istabraq with a fourth triumph in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown.