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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

The Storyteller puts Elliott and Russell in wonderland in Plate

The Storyteller: outstayed Splash Of Ginge up the hill
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Twelve months ago Davy Russell and Whisper were nailed on the line by a wayward Might Bite in the RSA Chase.

A year later and it was Russell taking the scenic route from the final fence to the line, as The Storyteller wandered around in the closing stages yet still had enough up his sleeve to overhaul the gallant Splash Of Ginge to win the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, completing a treble for Russell and trainer Gordon Elliott.

The Storyteller, wearing the purple and yellow silks of Joe and Pat Sloan that were carried to victory by Guitar Pete in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup here in December, was making his handicap debut after contesting graded races the last twice, and punters took the hint as he was supported into 5-1 favourite at the off.

Russell, whose prowess around Cheltenham has been highlighted several times this week, moved stylishly through the race to emerge on the scene as Splash Of Ginge, roared on by his hyperactive ‘Ginge Army’ of owners, cleared the last and set off up the run-in.

The Storyteller was in hot pursuit but, despite Russell’s urgings, the seven-year-old continued to drift to his right as Splash Of Ginge ran straight and true. Nevertheless,Elliott and Russell were not to be denied another winner on what was a special day for the pair.

“It’s unbelievable,” said a wide-eyed Elliott. “Joe and Pat Sloan have been big supporters of my yard and have been with me since the start.

“Davy gave the horse a peach. I was worried he was a bit novicey and up the straight he gave me a bit of a fright.”

Luckily for Elliott he had a jockey as cool as they come aboard The Storyteller, and Russell was keen to praise the trainer.

“Gordon decided to skip the JLT and come for this and he’s shown again he’s the master,” he said.

“He’s a great man and it’s a joy to work with him. I wouldn’t even call it work as he makes it so enjoyable every day.”

The same can be said of owner John Neild, who was preparing to head to The Hollow Bottom pub to celebrate with the Ginge Army after Splash Of Ginge’s second place.

“He was beaten by a better horse on the day but I love this horse and we’re going to The Hollow Bottom to celebrate like we always do,” Neild said.

“That’s him done for the season now. He’ll come back here for the BetVictor Gold Cup he won this season, and hopefully the heavens will open again for him.”

That is for the future. Thursday was for Elliott, Russell and The Storyteller. As one rival owner put it: “What could we do? He was ridden by Davy Russell.”

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He’s a great man and it’s a joy to work his with. I wouldn’t even call it work as he makes it so enjoyable every day
E.W. Terms
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