Somersby and Dominic Elsworth on their way to victory at ExeterPICTURE: Getty Images
Somersby hangs on to land Haldon thriller
Report: Exeter, Tuesday
BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup Chase (Limited Handicap) (Grade 2) 2m1½f, 4yo+
SOMERSBY held off the strong-finishing Module in a spectacular finish to land the BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup in fine-style with Ryanair Chase victor Cue Card finishing back in third.
The Mick Channon-trained nine-year-old, who had not recorded a win since his victory over Finian's Rainbow in the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January 2012, travelled smoothly and jumped fluently throughout to get up by a head from the Tom George-trained Module at odds of 9-2.
Jockey Dominic Elsworth said: "Last season was a bit of a wash-out for him but he is bigger and better this year.
"Of course there is still Sprinter Sacre but after him who knows. After this run he can only improve - he was bit fresh early which he was entitled to be."
The 11-10 favourite, Cue Card, travelled well and despite a bad mistake at the fourth fence that nearly unseated jockey Joe Tizzard, was in contention going into the final three fences.
The two-time Cheltenham Festival winner was giving away 17lb to Somersby and 20lb to Module and that burden took its' toll when struggling to stick with the duo after being outjumped three from home.
Cue Card aside, Somersby was the only runner to have previously scored a Grade 1 and assistant trainer Henrietta Knight plans a return to the scene of that success with the Grade 2 Amlin Chase at Ascot his likely target.
"I think he is better at shorter distances," said Knight, effectively ruling out a tilt at the 3m King George at Kempton. "He will go for the Amlin next at Ascot - a course he loves."
Somersby's performance caught the eye of the bookmakers with Paddy Power cutting him to 12-1 (from 20-1) for the Ryanair and BetVictor going 16-1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and 5-1 without Sprinter Sacre.