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Dancing City relishes Sefton stamina test

3 minute read

Cheltenham form came to the fore in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, as Albert Bartlett third Dancing City reversed the placings with The Jukebox Man to land the Grade 1 stamina test.

DANCING CITY after winning the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
DANCING CITY after winning the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Both The Jukebox Man and Dancing City were forced to concede Grade 1 glory to Stellar Story in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but the market suggested that the pair would dominate in the eight-race Aintree field, especially after the late withdrawal of the Willie Mullins-trained Readin Tommy Wrong.

Ben Pauling's The Jukebox Man was not allowed his own way in front in the early stages, with Pertemps Handicap Hurdle second Kyntara racing alongside for the first circuit of the course. Despite both horses being comfortable to take the lead, the pace remained reasonable until the front two reached the back straight for the final time, slowly increasing the tempo.

As the field rounded the bend, Paul Townend began to draw a little closer on Dancing City and he remained poised behind the leading pair, asking the gelding to make up ground coming into the last flight, where Kyntara weakened out of contention and took a tired fall. Both The Jukebox Man and Dancing City jumped well, but it became clear that stamina was the name of the game and the Willie Mullins-trained chestnut relished the conditions, drawing clear for a comfortable victory.

Mullins said: "It was a great ride from Paul because the game looked up crossing the bottom for about five or six strides and Paul even thought the game was up himself when he was off the bridle.

"But Paul just sat and sat and nursed him until they got over the last because it took some getting. They finished very tired and the second horse was especially tired, it was testing ground out there so it was a good performance.

"It's taken a long time for him to show me he's the horse we thought he was when we bought him. A few times we thought we should maybe ship him on, but he's come right now and he's going to make an exciting novice chaser. My father always used to say to me 'patience' which obviously at the time I didn't really understand, but some horses just need time to come to themselves.

"He could have easily thrown in the towel today when he was off the bridle but he didn't, and that's the difference between the good ones and the bad ones and he looks another good one for Joe Donnelly."

Paddy Power cut Dancing City from 33/1 to 20/1 for next year's Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

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