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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Elliott's Storyteller gifted big Punchestown win in one of the most bizarre finishes you'll see

Paul Townend hit with 21-day ban as Al Boum Photo crashes out of the Growise Champion Novice Chase.

Paul Townsend onboard Al Boum Photo forces Robbie Power onboard Finian's Oscar off the track as they approach the last jump Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

DAVY RUSSELL AND The Storyteller landed the Growise Champion Novice Chase on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival in a bizarre finish that could tilt the trainers’ championship in Gordon Elliott’s favour.

After a huge treble for Willie Mullins early on Tuesday with Draconien, True Self and Un de Sceaux all winning, Elliott struck back when Commander of Fleet won the Goffs Land Rover Bumper.

Mullins looked set to land another significant blow in the three-mile novice chase, the final Grade One of the day, when the favourite Monalee fell and Invitation Only unseated jockey David Mullins two out, leaving Al Boum Photo and Paul Townend with the race at their mercy coming to the last.

But in one of the craziest finishes seen at the Kildare track, Townend steered the leader sharply across the track, carrying out the approaching Finian’s Oscar before crashing through the rail.

It left Russell and The Storyteller with the most simple of tasks as they cleared the last and ran on uncontested to win by six lengths from Monbeg Notorious.

Townend was later handed a 21-day for dangerous riding by stewards, the Racing Post reported.

Speaking on At The Races, Mick Fitzgerald was at a loss to explain what had happened.

“I wonder has somebody shouted something at Paul Townend to make him do this?” he said.

“You can see there’s two people down there [beside the fence] but they’re not really moving, and you wonder has somebody said something to him and that’s made him take the eye off the ball. You don’t know.

“He’s just had an absolute moment, Paul, where he thought ‘I shouldn’t jump this’, but why has he done that?”

Elliott’s lead over Mullins in the trainers’ championship stands at €405,839 after the festival’s first day.

Punchestown – Tuesday’s results

  • 15.40: 1. Just Wait And See (16/1) 2. Blue Templar (7/4 fav) 3. Festival Opera (8/1)
  • 16.20: 1. Draconien (25/1) 2. Vision des Flos (11/1) 3. Mengli Khan (11/2 j2fav)
  • 16.55: 1. True Self (12/1) 2. Joey Sasa (14/1) 3. Light That (25/1) 4. Low Sun (9/1 2fav)
  • 17.30: 1. Un de Sceaux (9/2) 2. Douvan (4/5 fav) 3. A Toi Phil (33/1)
  • 18.05: 1. Commander of Fleet (5/1 2fav) 2. Column of Fire (12/1) 3. Santana Plessis (20/1)
  • 18.40: 1. The Storyteller (16/1) 2. Monbeg Notorious (33/1) 3. Jury Duty (16/1)
  • 19.15: Kalum River (16/1) 2. Barrington Court (8/1) 3. Sams Profile (14/1)

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Niall Kelly

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