Regal Encore headlines Ascot treble for Honeyball

Anthony Honeyball described Saturday as the “best day” of his training career after celebrating a 308-1 treble at Ascot, highlighted by the victory of Regal Encore in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, the popular 12-year-old demonstrated he still has plenty to offer when going one better than 12 months ago in the valuable Grade Three prize to register a fourth course-and-distance success.

Jumping well throughout the three-mile contest in the hands of Richie McLernon, the 14-1 shot took command of matters from long-time leader Might Bite over the second last before demonstrating the best of his battling abilities to defeat Whatmore by a length and quarter.

Honeyball said: “Without a doubt it’s our best day I think. Any day Regal has been here and won a big pot has been incredible.

“Ordinarily we would have been hopeful of a big run, but a few weeks ago he was a bit flat and he wasn’t eating up as well.

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“He has come back to hand, but we felt we missed one or two bits of work in that time. It was right to run, but it was last minute. As he loves it, we thought if it only ends up as a run, it will get us back on track for another day and that’s fine.

“Richie kept him happy and you couldn’t really see him running poorly from there as he was always running a good race, but I was worried he might blow up a touch with what we missed.”

Assessing future plans, Honeyball hinted an outing in next month’s Ladbrokes Trophy could be next on the agenda, for which Regal Encore was introduced at 25-1 by William Hill and Paddy Power.

He said: “He has run well in the Ladbrokes Trophy before and he is in that. He can go out wide and be handy and I think it probably is the obvious option.

“We were thinking about a Becher Chase, but we will probably go for the Ladbrokes Trophy as they will go an end-to-end gallop.”

Kid Commando formed the middle leg of Honeyball’s haul when resuming his progression with an impressive front-running success in the Sodexo Handicap Hurdle.

Last sighted finishing third in a Grade Two at Kempton in February, the six-year-old made the most of a drop down to Listed company to add a second win over hurdles to his name.

Maintaining a good gallop throughout the extended one-mile-seven-furlong prize, the 11-4 favourite found plenty from the sharp end to cross the line four and three-quarter lengths clear of Malaya.

The winning trainer said: “It was a good decision (to stick at this trip) as if he ran well but it had been too sharp. it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but he will come out of this better for another day.

“If we had gone to Carlisle on Sunday, it would have definitely been a hard race for him and he has probably got too much boot to run over two and a half round Carlisle.

“I was keen to go up to two and half, but I think now, as long as it is very soft ground, we will stick at two and if not we will go up to two and a half.”

Sully D’Oc (9-2) got the ball rolling for both Honeyball and McLernon with a first victory over fences in the Ascot Underwriting Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

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