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'Bullets' shoots down his Champion rivals to star in Nicholls' hat-trick

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Dodging Bullets ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies races clear of second placed Somersby ridden by Brian Hughes and goes on to win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Ladies Day

Dodging Bullets ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies races clear of second placed Somersby ridden by Brian Hughes and goes on to win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Ladies Day

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Dodging Bullets ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies races clear of second placed Somersby ridden by Brian Hughes and goes on to win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Ladies Day

Dodging Bullets galloped home in the Champion Chase to give jockey Sam Twiston-Davies his most important winner since joining Paul Nicholls at the start of the season.

As the race unfolded between the 9/2 shot, the evergreen Somersby and the front-running Special Tiara off the last bend, the previous two winners of the race, Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy, were nowhere to be seen.

A lacklustre Sprinter Sacre was about to be pulled up while Sire De Grugy, eventually fourth, was staying on having never really been at the races on the good ground.

Dodging Bullets - bred to win a Derby by Frankie Dettori but now winning on jumping's biggest stage - was going best. But for a few strides after the last the 11-year-old Somersby, ranged alongside as if he was finally going to have his day in the sun.

But showing a resolution he lacked last year, Dodging Bullets galloped up the hill to beat Somersby by just over a length with Special Tiara third.

"He should have been favourite on form but I understand sometimes with those old champions the heart rules the head," said Nicholls.

Vying

"We had the same with Big Buck's, but they don't often come back as good. I thought I'd missed a trick when I saw the other two vying for favouritism.

"Last spring he had a few little issues with his breathing and gastric ulcers. I think it is why he wasn't finishing his races. We've sorted them out, he has run three times in a tongue tie and won three, I've learned how to train him and he's grown up mentally."

For Twiston-Davies, already a front-runner in the race to be the next champion after AP McCoy's departure, it was a huge step forward and a coming of age in his partnership with Nicholls. "Someone said he would be my first jockey until I retire," joked Nicholls. "I don't know if he'll last that long!"

"It's a massive win and hopefully means I keep hold of the job for years to come," said Twiston-Davies. "Big winners make up for the days when things don't go so well. We didn't have a great day yesterday. He is some trainer."

Nicholls - who went on to complete a spectacular 1,429/1 treble with the help of Aux Ptits Soins and Qualando - said that new champion would not run again this season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk