Encore likely to be put away
Regal Encore is unlikely to run again this season after filling the runner-up spot in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham a week ago.
A winner of an all-weather bumper at Southwell in February of last year, the five-year-old was snapped up by leading owner JP McManus prior to the start of this season and it looked a shrewd purchase when he made a winning return at Chepstow in October.
Despite a five-month absence, Regal Encore was sent off a heavily supported joint-favourite for last week's championship contest and ran a cracking race to beat all bar surprise Willie Mullins-trained winner Briar Hill.
While a trip to the Punchestown Festival is not being ruled out by trainer Anthony Honeyball, he has revealed his charge is more likely to be given a break before kicking off over hurdles next season.
Honeyball said: "He's come out of the race absolutely 100% and I couldn't be happier with him. I was getting quite excited coming down the hill as he was travelling really well, like he had done in his previous two bumpers.
"Unfortunately Willie Mullins' horse went away from us in the end, but our horse ran his race and pulled a couple of lengths clear of the third, so it was a great run.
"Having spoken with Frank Berry (owner's racing manager), I think the plan for the moment is just to keep him ticking over and he'll probably have a school over hurdles outside on the grass.
"We are leaving the door slightly ajar for the big bumper at Punchestown but at this stage I would say it's more likely we'll rough him off for the season.
"He's still a bit of a baby, I think there's a lot more to come from him and we're really excited about seeing him over hurdles next season. He has already schooled over hurdles and he's a very slick jumper."
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