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Stage Star can shine but why so few New Year runners?


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The classy hurdler has a chance to eclipse rivals and solidify his claim as the best two-and-a-half-mile chaser in Britain or Ireland

The traditional New Year’s Day card at Cheltenham – which is also the first of 170 “Premier” racedays in a new top tier for the sport in 2024 – has attracted just 36 runners for its six events over jumps, with only half a dozen horses, the smallest field this century, declared for the most valuable race on the card, the £100,000 Paddy Power New Year’s Day Chase.

It does, however, offer a rare chance to see a Grade One winner attempting to give weight away in a handicap, as Stage Star, who moved to the top of the market for the Ryanair Chase in March when successful in the big handicap chase at the November meeting, looks to follow up off an 11lb higher mark.

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