An exhilarating finish to the G3 Planteur At Chapel Stud Handicap Chase saw Ramses de Teillee (11/2) narrowly edge out Yala Enki, with only a short-head separating the duo following a pulsating battle.
Ramses de Teillee was returning to fences for David Pipe following a productive campaign in novice hurdles that yielded a pair of G2 wins and a fifth in the G1 Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil, the French Champion Hurdle.
The eight-year-old raced in third towards the outside of the course throughout, with top-weight Yala Enki making most of the running under Bryony Frost. Ramses de Teillee loomed up to join Yala Enki three fences out and both horses continued to duel for the lead approaching the final fence.
Ramses de Teillee took a narrow advantage with a good jump at the last but had to be pushed out all the way to the line by Tom Scudamore as the Paul Nicholls-trained Yala Enki rallied gamely. The front two came home a full 35 lengths clear of Big River in third.
“Ramses de Teillee is finishing his races a lot better this season than he has done in the past.
“He jumped really well, he has taken me from fence to fence, has thrived on the ground and battled on gamely.
“He hasn’t always been the strongest of finishers, but he was today.
“Yala Enki is a very tough horse so I was delighted with the attitude he showed today.
“I am delighted with Ramses De Teillee as he deserved a day in the sun and hopefully there is more to come from him.”
Tom Scudamore: “It’s great for John [White, who owns the horse with Anne Underhill], great for the yard, it’s been a long few days after Kingswell Theatre so to be back in the winner’s enclosure is brilliant. Everyone wants a winner at Cheltenham and to win a nice race like this, he deserves it.
“He will mix and match [over fences and hurdles]. The long-term plan has always been the Grand National with him and he is seeing out his races so much better. I thought he ran a great race in France [at Auteuil, 17 October]. He has always in good order at home, but when I rode him the other morning I couldn’t believe how well he was. His jumping is what’s won it over the last two.
“He took to chasing pretty early on, he has been a fantastic advertisement for the yard and it is great for him to go and get his head in front. He has been second in Grand National trials, second in the Welsh National so it is nice for him to go and win a nice big race.
“He won a G2 around Doncaster, he won at the October meeting here and he won a nice race at Haydock as well, so he’s very versatile. He was fifth in the French Champion Hurdle last time out, I imagine all roads will hopefully lead to Aintree again. The rein snapped at the Canal Turn last time, I mean Tiger Roll bolted up so it would be hard to say. He was only running OK at that stage (when the rein snapped), but he is a different horse now to the horse he was then and he’s certainly seeing out his races a lot better the last two times. He finished really well in the French Champion Hurdle and as you could see there [today], he really kept on whereas sometimes he hasn’t quite seen out the races. Today he most certainly has.
“It’s really hard work out there, it’s more like riding round Auteuil today than Cheltenham, it is very holding, deep ground. That gave me a lot of confidence as he had handled it so well last time, we knew he would handle it today.”
Paul Nicholls, trainer of runner-up Yala Enki, said: "I knew he was really well - I honestly thought he would win today, because he is brilliant fresh, and the ground and everything was right for him.
“He has got an entry for the Becher Chase in three weeks’ time - I think if it is really testing ground there, that's where we would go, if the owners are in agreement, because it would be a nice little trial to see whether he could go round Aintree in the spring.
“The key is to have him really nice and fresh and well; three weeks would be fine as long as he comes out of today OK. He was galloping on really strongly there up the hill and didn't look too tired.
“He has got an abundance of stamina. The Becher might just be a real nice place to run him to give him experience for the spring."
1.50pm Planteur At Chapel Stud Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 3f 71y
1 Ramses de Teillee – David Pipe 8-11-05 Tom Scudamore 11/2
2 Yala Enki – Paul Nicholls 10-11-12 Bryony Frost 11/2
3 Big River – Lucinda Russell 10-10-13 Derek Fox 16/1
15/8 fav Discorama (5th)
Distances: sh, 35
Tote Win: £6 Places: £2.60 £2.30 Exacta: £27.70 Trifecta: £174