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Gifted Storyteller is out to write Ulster fairytale at Festival

Opportunity: The Storyteller carries local hopes in today’s big Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham
Opportunity: The Storyteller carries local hopes in today’s big Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

By Ron McKnight

The Storyteller represents the Templepatrick-based Sloan family in today's featured Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

The local runner won a handicap chase at the Festival last year and most recently finished third in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown behind Bellshill and Road To Respect, which were separated by a short head.

Road To Respect, like the local runner, had also held an entry in the Gold Cup and won the Champion Chase at last year's Down Royal Festival, compensating for finishing runner-up the previous year.

Balko Des Flos and Sub Lieutenant filled fourth and fifth in the feature at the Lisburn course last November, while Monalee finished third in the Grade 2 Novice Chase behind the locally owned Snow Falcon.

Cooney Island is interesting having been second favourite in the Gold Cup betting for a period last year before a curtailed season.

A Toi Phil reverts from chasing to contest the Pertemps Hurdle having won on his debut over fences at Down Royal and finished fourth in the big novice chase at the local festival two years ago.

The Jessica Harrington trained Not Many Left travelled to Huntingdon to qualify for this race and won a Crumlin point to point before his sale. The trainer's daughter, Kate, finished fourth on him in a good Down Royal bumper.

Local former points winners Black Op, which won at Templepatrick, and Petit Mouchoir, a Kirkistown winner, tackle the Stayers Hurdle.

Valseur Lido, winner of the Down Royal Festival feature in 2016, along with former local points winners Ballyhill and Some Buckle tackle the Handicap Chase, while Cabra rider Noel McParlan has been booked for Ah Littleluck in the Kim Muir Chase for amateurs.

Sinoria, Santa Simona, Black Tears and Tintangle all have winning form at Down Royal, with the first named appearing to have the best claims in the mares hurdle.

So plenty of Ulster interest on what promises to be an intriguing third day.

Belfast Telegraph

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