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Grand National service next for Ascot winner Regal Encore

Sat 17 Feb 2018

Regal Encore is to head straight to the Randox Health Grand National after returning to form with a second course-and-distance success in Ascot's Keltbray Swinley Limited Handicap Chase.

Anthony Honeyball's 10-year-old, who was eighth in the world's greatest steeplechase at Aintree last spring, is a 33-1 chance with Coral and Paddy Power after outpointing Minella Daddy.

Richie McLernon brought the 6-1 winner to challenge after Tenor Nivernais had set the pace. A good jump at the last saw Regal Encore gain the upper hand and score by a length and a half.

Honeyball said: "It's a good sharpener because they've gone a good gallop. He travelled well and we know he stays well.

"In the National last year, all he did was stay and went past several horses on the run-in.

"He'll go straight for the National now. We'll give him a pop over National-type fences like we did last year about 10 days to two weeks before the race.

"He likes ground like this (soft) because he gets a chance to get a breather in."

Point Of Principle hung on grimly to give Tim Vaughan a landmark victory in the Ascot Schools Art Competition Novices' Hurdle.

The Vale of Glamorgan handler believed Ascot was the only British jumps track where he had not had a winner, and he duly put that right, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

At 12-1, Point Of Principle was the outsider of five but he travelled well throughout for Alan Johns, before being all out to deny Dame De Compagnie by a nose and open his account.

"He's always shown ability and has gone to places like Cheltenham and we took him to Musselburgh to try to win a race but bumped into a nice horse of Keith Dalgleish's (Silver Concorde) and he injured himself," said Vaughan.

"We thought we'd have a try at a decent one. A couple of these hadn't run to their ability last time and we thought soft ground and the uphill finish would be a stiff test and it's just come off.

"It's my first winner here and this was the only National Hunt track in Britain I hadn't had a winner. I think I've got them all now, it's great."

He added: "We've not got him in the level-weight races at Cheltenham. It seemed a bit ambitious at the time. I'll see what the owners say, but I think we might go for a similar race next time and then go to Aintree. He ran a blinder there last year in the Grade Two bumper."

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