Following a Grade One victory at Down Royal this month, The Storyteller could now head to Kempton on St Stephen’s Day and run in the prestigious King George VI Chase.
As the 2017/18 National Hunt season came to a close, Gordon Elliott will have had the Gold Cup as a long-term target for The Storyteller. Elliott watched his novice run away with the Brown Advisory Plate at that Cheltenham Festival, before snatching a surprise Grade One triumph in a chaotic renewal of the Growise Novices’ Chase at Punchestown.
Sadly, The Storyteller couldn’t transfer his fantastic novice form into open company. The following season saw Elliott’s charge fall to eight-straight defeats over fences, pulling up on his return to Cheltenham in the 2019 Ryanair Chase.
Elliott then decided to try and take advantage of The Storyteller’s lowly handicap mark over hurdles. It seemed the team’s plan had come to fruition, as Davy Russell’s mount moved smoothly into contention in the closing stages of the 2020 Pertemps Final, only to get run down by stablemate Sire Du Berlais, who got up just before the line to retain his title.
The Storyteller’s return to chasing in the Galway Plate this summer couldn’t have gone much worse, as he was pulled up after just four terrible jumps. Elliott’s star put that disappointment behind him two days later though, claiming his first Galway Festival win in the Arthur Guinness Chase, defeating Sub Lieutenant in comprehensive fashion.
Another victory at Galway followed in September, this time over hurdles, before The Storyteller claimed an impressive Grade Three victory in the Irish Daily Star at Punchestown. Two weeks later, Keith Donoghue gave his mount a masterful ride in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, where The Storyteller saw off favourite Chris’s Dream to end his two-and-a-half-year wait for a second Grade One victory.
"He’s a horse of a lifetime and has always been a brilliant horse for the Sloans (owners ),” Elliott said to Racing TV following The Storyteller's victory at Down Royal.
“It’s great for Keith (Donoghue, jockey ), he’s a big part of our team. He’s had loads of chances and he proves when he gets the chances how good he is.
“He might get a bit of a break, he wouldn’t want really heavy ground. They’ll all go to the usual places over Christmas."
Delta Work and Presenting Percy will fly the flag for Gordon Elliott in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Yet, it seems Elliott has a different plan in mind for The Storyteller, handing his star an entry in the King George VI Chase instead.
Elliott hasn’t sent one of his chasers over to Kempton since Don Cossack’s untimely fall at the second-last in 2015. The Storyteller does, however, boast some excellent form around right-handed tracks, and that Grade One triumph at Down Royal signals his confidence over fences is back to where it was in 2018.
If The Storyteller does take up the Kempton entry, then the likes of Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname will have to sleep with one eye open.