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The Storyteller wins Champion Chase after thrilling Down Royal finish

Elliott runner claims narrow verdict in Grade One heat.

The Storyteller (No8) clears the final fence on the way to winning the Champion Chase.
The Storyteller (No8) clears the final fence on the way to winning the Champion Chase.
Image: PA

Updated Oct 31st 2020, 3:05 PM

THE STORYTELLER LANDED the biggest success of his career when pipping Chris’s Dream in a thrilling renewal of the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Gordon Elliott’s nine-year-old has been in the form of his life through the autumn, but he has regularly come up short in Grade One company since winning at the highest level as a novice.

Dropped out at the rear by Keith Donoghue, The Storyteller came through to challenge Chris’s Dream between the last two fences and the two settled down to fight it out.

For most of the run to the line, Henry de Bromhead’s Chris’s Dream looked likely to hold on, but Donoghue was not to be denied aboard 9-2 shot The Storyteller, who prevailed by a neck.

Meanwhile, Battleoverdoyen returned to winning ways in the Lough Construction Ltd. Chase at Down Royal as he formed part of a Gordon Elliott five-timer.

Elliott’s seven-year-old looked sure to take high-rank among the novices last season having won a Grade One at Christmas.

But a fall in the Flogas Novice Chase and a well-beaten fourth at Cheltenham meant he had questions to answer on his return, especially up against stablemate Samcro and the odds-on favourite Easy Game.

However, Mark Walsh kept things simple and his mount never put a foot wrong, taking up the running in the straight to beat Easy Game by six lengths.

In other news, Anthony Honeyball described Saturday as the “best day” of his training career after celebrating a 308-1 treble at Ascot, highlighted by the victory of Regal Encore in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, the popular 12-year-old demonstrated he still has plenty to offer when going one better than 12 months ago in the valuable Grade Three prize to register a fourth course-and-distance success.

Jumping well throughout the three-mile contest in the hands of Richie McLernon, the 14-1 shot took command of matters from long-time leader Might Bite over the second last before demonstrating the best of his battling abilities to defeat Whatmore by a length and quarter.

Honeyball said: “Without a doubt it’s our best day I think. Any day Regal has been here and won a big pot has been incredible.

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“Ordinarily we would have been hopeful of a big run, but a few weeks ago he was a bit flat and he wasn’t eating up as well.

“He has come back to hand, but we felt we missed one or two bits of work in that time. It was right to run, but it was last minute. As he loves it, we thought if it only ends up as a run, it will get us back on track for another day and that’s fine.

“Richie kept him happy and you couldn’t really see him running poorly from there as he was always running a good race, but I was worried he might blow up a touch with what we missed.”

Assessing future plans, Honeyball hinted an outing in next month’s Ladbrokes Trophy could be next on the agenda, for which Regal Encore was introduced at 25-1 by William Hill and Paddy Power.

He said: “He has run well in the Ladbrokes Trophy before and he is in that. He can go out wide and be handy and I think it probably is the obvious option.

“We were thinking about a Becher Chase, but we will probably go for the Ladbrokes Trophy as they will go an end-to-end gallop.”

Elsewhere, Bridget Andrews received plenty of praise after producing Amoola Gold with a well-timed late run to land the Handicap Chase at Ascot.

The Dan Skelton-trained seven-year-old took another step forward when following up his comeback win at Wetherby 17 days ago with a last-gasp victory in the extended two-mile Listed event.

After being held up for much of the race, the 9-2 shot was delivered by Andrews at the final fence before getting the better of a late duel with favourite Ibleo by a short head.

Tom Messenger, assistant trainer, said: “It was a fantastic performance. Bridget gave him a fantastic ride to be fair on this ground. She took her time on him and there is only one winning post, but she got there just at the right time.”

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