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Last Updated: 21/01/12 4:20pm
Somersby: Battling win at Ascot
Somersby got the better of Finian's Rainbow to win the 25th Anniversary Of The Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot.
Henrietta Knight's inmate had been just touched off in the race 12 months ago by Master Minded but it was his turn this time around as he pounced in the final 100 yards to claim the Grade 1 contest.
The eventual runner-up looked to be moving with the most purpose at the second-last fence but Dominic Elsworth was tucked in behind and steadily started to get on terms.
The pair jumped the last with Finian's Rainbow still holding the edge but Elsworth drove his mount up the far rail to get on top by a length and a quarter at the line.
Novice Al Ferof ran a smashing race in third but could not really get in a blow up the straight while early leader Gauvain was a spent force when coming down three out.
Elsworth said: "I'm delighted for the horse.
"He's been a bit of a bridesmaid, but he's done it nicely.
"I always knew he was going to stay on towards the end."
Elsworth added: "Everything went in my favour. They did quicken away from me a bit going to the second last, but I knew he would stay.
"He jumped extremely well. Days like this make it all worthwhile when you are getting up at the crack of dawn every morning."
Knight, whose husband, Terry Biddlecombe, is recovering from a stroke, added: "He ran such a good race in it last year.
"He loves this place and I thought it was worth another go.
"I think the cheek pieces sharpened him up, his jumping was very slick today.
"I think it was just one of those days when everything went right.
"It's a wonderful feeling as I've got Terry with me here today, too."
Knight added: "We've had him since he was three and he very rarely lets us down - he deserves that win so much.
"That (Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival) is probably the target, but he's also entered in the Queen Mother."
Owner Michael Buckley said of runner-up Finian's Rainbow: "It was a very good effort, but I just think he's looking, and working, more like a staying horse.
"If he does run in the Champion Chase it will be the last time he runs over two miles."
Nicholls said of Al Ferof: "I'm absolutely delighted.
"Ruby Walsh came back and said, 'You can't buy that experience'.
"It should have put him right for Cheltenham, where he'll definitely run in the Arkle."
Sky Bet make the winner 12-1 from 25s for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival while he is 7-1 from 14s to claim the Ryanair Chase with Knight favouring the latter contest.
Finian's Rainbow has been eased by the same firm to 11-2 (was 5-1) for the former event while Al Ferof has been timmed a point to 5-1 in the Arkle.