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Stellar Story pips The Jukebox Man on the line to take the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham

Stellar Story pounced in the very last stride to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and deny Harry Redknapp's The Jukebox Man at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Ben Pauling-trained 18/1 outsider, owned by Redknapp, had led the field along from flag fall in the hands of Kielan Woods, with Gordon Elliott’s shock 33/1 winner amongst those to track the pace setter.

The sedate early gallop saw plenty in with chances as the runners descended towards two out, but one by one they dropped away as Woods upped the tempo aboard The Jukebox Man and made his bid for home.

Pauling’s charge held the advantage running down to the last, but the six-year-old got in tight and gave Sam Ewing and Stellar Story a glimmer of hope and they took full advantage, rallying to reel in the brave runner-up in the shadow of the post.

It was Elliott’s second success of the week following on from Teahupoo’s Stayers’ Hurdle triumph on Thursday, but for the young rider Ewing, it was not only a first Cheltenham Festival success, but also a maiden strike at Grade One level.

Winning owner Michael O’Leary said: “We were very surprised and it makes up for a disappointing day yesterday, when my wife kept presenting trophies to other owners and wouldn’t give me any.

“It’s a great training performance by Gordon – this horse was supposed to go to Aintree, we only put him on the box two nights ago because Croke Park was taken out, so he was very much the reserve.

“It was a very strange race; we thought something would come from the back but the front two horses stayed in front the whole way round.”

Ewing said: “Absolutely brilliant. He’s a horse that jumps very well, he loved that ground today and he battled very hard for me. He was brilliant at the last as well, when we needed it, so I can’t believe it.”

Elliott admitted he thought Stellar Story’s odds were generous, saying: “To be honest we thought he was overpriced, we knew he’d love the ground and he’s as tough as old nails.

“He stayed very well and Sam was good and positive. We were probably a little bit fortunate that the second horse missed the last as we’ve collared him on the line, but it was brilliant. I knew he was getting there, I just didn’t think he was getting there in time.

“To tell you the honest truth, I wasn’t going to run him. I was going to run Croke Park in the race and he was lame on Wednesday morning, so I brought this horse over late. I was going to send him to Aintree for a three-mile hurdle, so it shows what I know.

“He was bought to be a big chaser, that’s what he is. He’s a lovely horse.

“Sam is a big part of the team and I’m delighted for him.”

Owner Michael O’Leary added: “It’s a relief as I was getting a bit desperate. I had a bad day yesterday as my wife was presenting the Ryanair trophy to an ex Manchester United manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) and I’m a lifelong Man City supporter.

“I’m happy that’s the only trophy Man United are going to win this year, but I’m a bit disappointed it was the Ryanair trophy.

“It’s a complete fluke as we had Croke Park for this race and Gordon only put this horse on the box on Wednesday night. Sam gave him a peach of a ride.

“It was just a slog fest, but I’m very happy to win it. That relieves an awful lot of pressure.

“Winners here are so hard to get, if you don’t appreciate being in here you should give this game up. I tried to give it up about five years ago!

“To get in here is just fantastic.”

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