Paul Townend hit with hefty ban as The Storyteller takes full advantage of Punchestown chaos

High drama in the Growise Champion Novice Chase

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Jockey Paul Townend was suspended for 21 days as The Storyteller claimed victory in a dramatic renewal of the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown

A field of 11 went to post for the three-mile Grade One, with title-chasing trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott saddling three and five runners respectively.

Mullins looked in a strong position rounding the home turn, with Invitation Only and the Townend-ridden Al Boum Photo both in contention either side of Henry de Bromhead’s 2-1 favourite Monalee.

However, few could have envisaged what would happen next.

Monalee took a crashing fall two fences from home, badly hampering Invitation Only, who unshipped David Mullins.

That incident left Al Boum Photo in command before jockey Paul Townend tried to manoeuvre his mount across the track, and in doing so ended up taking both himself and Finian’s Oscar out of the race.

The Storyteller, who won a handicap at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, was left in front in the hands of Davy Russell and galloped on to lead home a one-two-three for Elliott, with Monbeg Notorious and Jury Duty finishing second and third respectively.

Townend was served with a heavy ban for dangerous riding and was also ordered to forfeit his riding fee.

Elliott was nonetheless over the moon by the result.

He said: “I don’t what happened. We got a bit of luck on our side and we needed it with the way the day started off.

“I don’t know what happened to Paul Townend, it all happened that quick. I was standing at the last and when I saw Paul going I wasn’t sure if it had been bypassed.”

Elliott added: “It worked out great for me so I can’t complain.

“He’s won a Grade One now and won at Cheltenham.”

Of the trainers’ title, in which he still holds a very healthy advantage, the County Meath handler insisted: “It’s going to be ding-dong for the week and it just shows what can happen.

“If it’s like this for the week it’ll be interesting anyway!”

Paul Townend hit with hefty ban as The Storyteller takes full advantage of Punchestown chaos
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