Regal Encore ground out a game success in an attritional race for the Dave Dawes Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot.
Winner of this race in 2016, Anthony Honeyball’s 11-year-old pulled out all the stops in the stamina-sapping closing stages for Richie McLernon.
Black Corton made a brave effort from the front, but he had tough task under top-weight and it was those rivals towards the bottom of the handicap over three miles who came to the fore.
Acting Lass and Regal Encore (16-1) fought out a terrific finish, with the latter, owned by JP McManus, getting the verdict by three-quarters of a length. Jerrysback, also carrying the McManus colours, was two and a quarter lengths back in third and Black Corton fourth.
Honeyball said: “He is unbelievable. He has won this race twice, so that’s two £100,000 races and he won a £75,000 race, and his CV is cracking. He was second in a Champion Bumper, third in a Ladbrokes Trophy, placed at all the festivals – Punchestown, Cheltenham and Aintree – and he has been the most fantastic horse.
“It took him a while to live up to his billing, having been such a good bumper horse, but that can happen to a lot of them. He had a year where he wasn’t getting anywhere, but we always rated him and were keen to get him going over fences early in his career.
“He is not overly-big and he has run very well here, that’s for sure, and his CV says he has been good in a lot of places as well.
“But that was bonus country – I really didn’t expect that! This was a jackpot, but we could go down the Grand National route for sure. I would not say he would go on soft or heavy ground, but we can’t be too worried about that.
“He is creeping down a few pounds and was on 142 today, and to run in races like the National you have to maintain the level of form to get you in it.
“What a horse, though, when things are right for him, he takes advantage and I’m sure he reads the papers – he sees a hundred-grand race he seems to know what to do.”