Horses To Follow » Al Dancer

Al Dancer

Al Dancer is not overly original, but he was impressive in winning the 2m 1f handicap hurdle. Always travelling well just behind the leader Champagne City, he moved easily up to join the leader at the second last flight, he travelled well around the home turn and he moved to the front at the top of the home straight. He picked up nicely from there for Sam Twiston-Davies, he jumped the final flight well and, ears pricked and racing against the stands rail, he came right away from his rivals on the run-in under just a hands-and-heels ride to win in a good time.

Winner of a bumper at Bangor in March on his first run for Nigel Twiston-Davies, and fourth in the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, the Al Namix gelding had won his first two races over hurdles before this. This was a significant step up in class and, racing in a hood which he had worn just once before, in the Aintree bumper last April, he proved that he was up to it. The handicapper raised him by 12lb to a mark of 141 for this win, and that is a significant hike, but he won with buckets in hand. Also, he is only five and he has just three runs over hurdles under his belt, so he has lots of potential for further progression.

His trainer suggested afterwards that the Betfair Hurdle could be the plan for him now, and he would be of interest in that race off his new mark of 141, if he doesn’t run between now and then. The novice Kalashnikov won the Betfair Hurdle off the same mark of 141 last February before going to Cheltenham to finish second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and Al Dancer could have the class to attempt to follow a similar path. He is exciting.

Cheltenham, 14th December 2018