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Cheltenham: Stattler shines to boost Cheltenham hopes

The progressive Stattler boosted his National Hunt Chase claims after extending his unbeaten record over fences in the Grade 3 Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained 11-10 favourite prevailed in a titanic battle with Farouk D'Alene on the run-in at Naas after sitting fourth for much of the 3m1f trip off a pace set by stablemate En Beton.

Mullins-Elliott duel

He is now 7/2 for the National Hunt Chase after Sunday's win, with Gordon Elliott's Run Wild Fred 7/2.

Runner-up Farouk D'Alene was left to do battle alone for the Elliott-Gigginstown combination after original favourite Run Wild Fred spiked a temperature in the morning and had to be taken out.

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Rated 142 over hurdles, Stattler was backing up a six-length win on his first assignment over fences at Fairyhouse when overcoming the Elliott-trained runner-up, with last year's Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier well back in third.

Townend not fazed by jumping issues

Although he did make one or two jumping errors, the way that the son of Stowaway finished off the race suggests he will enjoy the 3m6f trip of the Cheltenham contest on 15th March, which will be shown on the Sports Live Streaming platform.

Winning jockey Paul Townend said after the length-and- a-quarter win: "Stattler was tough and the second is a good horse. He ground it out well at the death. He let me down once or twice today but he didn't do anything silly, he is a very good jumper."

He added: "From the back of the last he's dug in really well and I think that's the sign of a proper stayer."

Trainer Willlie Mullins said: "I'd imagine that now puts him into the National Hunt Chase. I think the extra five furlongs, just going a bit steadier, will suit him."

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