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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Antolini survives stewards' drama following a bitter tussle

Mr Antolini (right) and Call Me Lord come close together in a controversial tussle for the Imperial Cup
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Mr Antolini scrambled home narrowly to land the Matchbook Imperial Cup from Call Me Lord but had to survive a stewards' inquiry before the win could be confirmed.

The 20-1 Mr Antolini and topweight Call Me Lord were wide apart when they jumped the last level, but Mr Antolini hung so far to his right all the way to line that he was leaning on his rival and pushing him towards the rail strides before the post.

Call Me Lord's jockey Daryl Jacob claimed Mr Antolini had bumped and intimidated his mount otherwise he would have won the race in the ensuing hearing, broadcast live on ITV4.

However Jamie Bargary, who rode Mr Antolini, said his mount was idling and would still have won even they had raced for longer. The stewards allowed the placings to stand, confirming a neck triumph for Mr Antolini.

Jacob argued strongly for the winner to be demoted, telling the stewards, "He's had his stick in his right hand, he's coming in on me. He swithced his stick to his left and he's intimidating.

"Half a furlong back my horse has gone a head in front. I'm out to maintain that and Jamie's horse has pretty much intimidated me from the last half furlong when he changed his stick into his left hand.

"He kept drifting across and he intimidated my horse the whole way up and in the end my horse has nearly gone over the rails.

"I couldn't keep my horse balanced straight because I was going over the rails, unbalancing me and the horse for the last 50 yards. He's bumped me, taken my horse off his stride. I think I would have won a head, a neck if I hadn't been intimidated."

Relief for Nigel Twiston-Davies as the placings remain unaltered

Bargary said: "I've travelled like the best horse in the race, I've come for the better ground turning in and then when I knew Daryl was my only opponent I have just started edging across.

"I've given him a clip to get closer to Daryl to have a battle because I knew they were going to be weary horses after the last. I've given him every opportunity to go by me. My horse is idling slightly and I keep correcting him.

"I've won a neck in the end, I'm the best horse on the day and if it was another furlong I would still have been in front. My horse has stuck to it well and outbattled the other."

Mr Antolini delivered a second Imperial Cup win in three years for Twiston-Davies but is not engaged at Cheltenham so cannot challenge for the £100,000 bonus put forward by the race sponsor.

The trainer said: "The weather we get so angry about has done us a favour. It stopped us running him in a veterans' race last week which we thought was easy and then we were going to come here under a penalty."

Full result

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I've won a neck in the end, I am the best horse on the day and if it was another furlong I would still have been in front

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