Belfast Telegraph

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Ulster's Storyteller in dramatic plotline

 

By Ron McKnight

The Storyteller, which supplied the Templepatrick-based Sloan family with a second Cheltenham Festival winner, had an unbelievable victory in the penultimate race at Punchestown, the Grade One £100,000 Novice Chase.

The Storyteller - with Davy Russell in the saddle, adding to his Aintree Grand National victory on Tiger Roll - won in a style more associated with the World's greatest steeplechase.

The eventual winner had travelled in fourth for most of the race, and appeared set for a place at best, when the leader and favourite Monalee, appearing set for success, fell at the second last resulting in David Mullins being unseated from Invitation Only which was the challenger.

However, the ultimate drama came at the final fence as the Willie Mullins-trained Al Boum Photo, with former champion jockey Paul Townend aboard and looking the new likely winner, was pulled right through the wing in what appeared to be the rider's attempt to bypass the fence, and this in turn took the challenger Finian's Oscar out of the race.

Townend, who had looked round just prior to the fence, was unseated as he crashed through the wing leaving the miracle to unfold as The Storyteller, trained by Gordon Elliott, prevailed for Joe and Pat Sloan.

Joe Sloan said: "We're absolutely delighted. The horse ran a smashing race but looked set to be placed.

"I've watched the replays of the final fence several times but still can't make sense of the debacle. We're just happy the horse avoided the trouble, is safe and won."

Townend received a 21-day riding ban in the following stewards enquiry into the incident for dangerous riding.

Un De Sceaux had left champion trainer Mullins smiling following victory in the feature BoyleSports Champion Chase, son Patrick Mullins in the saddle.

Belfast Telegraph

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