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Sandor Clegane will avoid Aintree and may be kept fresh for next season

Sandor Clegane will not be facing his Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle conqueror Stay Away Fay at Aintree, and may not run again this season.

There were few stronger finishers at Cheltenham than the strapping six-year-old, who flew home from an impossible position to finish a length and a quarter behind the Paul Nicholls-trained winner.
A smart bumper performer, finishing second to Facile Vega at last year's Dublin Racing Festival, he relished the step up in trip at Punchestown in November when sauntering to a 12-length maiden hurdle win.
Given a couple of months off, he returned in the Grade One Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, where he finished third to Good Land.
Sandor Clegane appeared to improve again at Cheltenham, despite suffering little luck in running before powering up the hill under Sean O'Keeffe.
Trainer Paul Nolan is in no rush to map out immediate plans, however.
He said: "He ran a stormer. We expected him to. I knew he was better than he was at Leopardstown.
"I know we can't keep going on about it, but I thought he was a little bit unlucky. He didn't get much luck in running.
"He got shuffled back to last nearly twice and he just wasn't lucky, yet was only beaten a length.
"He flew up the hill and made more ground up than anything in the race."
A tall, scopey individual, Sandor Clegane would appear to have a bright future, but Nolan is prepared to bide his time with the Kay Browne and Anne Coffey-owned gelding.
He added: "We will see the way he goes. He is on a wee break now. We won't make any rash decisions on whether he will run again this season.
"He is only six, but at the end of the day he is born to run.
"We haven't rushed him this season. We haven't over-faced him. We had a plan and stuck to it.
"Unfortunately, it so nearly went our way at Cheltenham, but it just didn't work out."

Any thoughts of taking on Stay Away Fay or his River Don Hurdle conqueror Maximilian in the Cavani Menswear Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree were scotched by Enniscorthy handler.

"He definitely won't go to Aintree," said Nolan. "Punchestown would be the one place he'll go if that happens, but I won't make a call on that yet.
"He's huge - he's 17 hands and is bigger than you think. That's why we hope he'll get stronger. I was happy enough he'd improved going into Cheltenham, but for 10 horses to pull up in a Grade One, it shows you what a rough race that was.
"I think there is more to come, but you can't keep saying this that and the other, and I'm not going to come out with the cliché that he'll be better over a fence and all that. You live in the present, but we're hopeful he will improve."
Read more: Andy Gibson's Cheltenham Festival review: After the Lord Mayor's Show

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