Cheltenham Festival: Champion Bumper hopes Sandor Clegane will miss the Festival, says manager Paul Nolan | Race News

Sandor Clegane will miss the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and could be saved for next season, according to manager Paul Nolan.

After winning a Punchestown bumper by 15 lengths on his debut, the five-year-old was no match for the impressive Easy Vega at the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown.

Hopes were high that the Fame And Glory gelding could find his way back to victory in the BetVictor INH Flat Race at Naas on Sunday.

Yet, having traveled extremely well under Barry O’Neill, Sandor Clegane failed to find as much as expected by the bridle and the 4-9 favorite was beaten three-quarters length by Music Drive.

Nolan said: “Of course we were disappointed to be beaten. It was just one of those things.

“We will have a conversation with the owners, but he won’t be going to Cheltenham. That’s for sure.

“We might consider Fairyhouse or Punchestown if the ground is soft enough. It might be a bit more up its alley in testing conditions.

“Unfortunately if it hadn’t happened the other day. The slow pace didn’t suit him and I wouldn’t read much more than that.

“Of course we are disappointed but we still hope he is a good horse and once he jumps past him and on another trip I think he will be a different animal. that will be the case.”

As short as 16-1 with BetVictor for the Champion Bumper, Nolan now wonders where his next outing will be, and he’s tempted to bide his time.

“You don’t like running into too many bumpers, but you’ll see any of the champions from Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins has won two or three bumpers, and it’s a long time to let him go – if you let him go now, you won’t be back until next October,” the Enniscorthy manager added.

“We’re happy enough to try and give him some time off and consider Fairyhouse or Punchestown if the ground gets heavy. That’ll be it. If it doesn’t go that way we won’t run.

“I think he will be more comfortable in softer conditions. Naas had a nice pitch, but it was drying out considerably.

“The day he was narrowly beaten. I don’t think they might have sped up like they did if the ground had been a few inches deeper, but I don’t like to make excuses .”

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