Why Grand National hero Noble Yeats has ‘changed direction’ at the Cheltenham Festival

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  • Irish trainer Emmet Mullins’ decision to enter the 2022 Grand National hero Noble Yeats for the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (12-15 March) could prove a very shrewd move.

    “Noble Yeats is bouncing,” says the County Carlow trainer. “He definitely improved a lot between his run at Limerick over Christmas, which he needed [finishing second to uncle Willie Mullins’ Sa Majeste], and the Cleeve Hurdle [at Cheltenham in January, which he won, beating Paisley Park]. Noble Yeats should come on again and it was good to see him win the Cleeve.”

    Noble Yeats: “We have changed direction”

    At the time of writing, Noble Yeats is an 8/1 fourth favourite for Thursday’s Grade One Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. The market is headed by two Gordon Elliott runners, Teahupoo and Irish Point – who also holds an entry for the Champion Hurdle.

    Noble Yeats will be taking in the Stayers’ Hurdle en route to a third tilt at the Randox Grand National. Robert Waley-Cohen’s gelding won the Aintree spectacle in 2022 with son Sam Waley-Cohen on board and in 2023 he and jockey Sean Bowen finished fourth behind victor Corach Rambler after also finishing fourth to Galopin Des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

    “Not as demanding as the Gold Cup”

    “The Stayers’ Hurdle was always the plan this year,” says Emmet. “Noble Yeats came in late after his busy campaign last spring and I said to Robert Waley-Cohen back in October that we were put in our place in the Gold Cup last season and I couldn’t see a way past those horses this time, so we have changed direction. Although I’m not saying he’d win it, he can hopefully run a big race.

    “The Stayers’ Hurdle is a target in its own right and won’t be as demanding as the Gold Cup.”

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