Al Dancer on course for Betfair Hurdle date

Al Dancer on his way to an impressive victory at Cheltenham

Al Dancer is set to put his unbeaten record over obstacles on the line in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 9.

The six-year-old has won each each of his three starts this season, scoring at Carlisle and Ffos Las before dominating his rivals in handicap company at Cheltenham last month.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Betfair Hurdle twice in the last five years with Splash Of Ginge (2014) and Ballyandy (2017) and that pair are also part of a potential five-strong team in this year’s renewal along with Ballymoy and Mr Antolini.

Twiston Davies said: “We do try to have runners in the Betfair Hurdle as it is a nice race to win. Al Dancer is being aimed at the race. It’s become a good race for horses that have not quite been caught (by the handicapper).

“John Neild wanted me to enter Splash of Ginge. If it became very soft he could run and we could possibly run Ballyandy as well, so we could have two of our former winners there.”

Al Dancer would be the probable mount of jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, son of Nigel, who steered Ballyandy to his win at Newbury.

“He’s a novice who has done well so far this season,” said Twiston-Davies junior.

“Going into a handicap like this would be good experience for him. The long-term dream is that he will be good enough for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Betfair Hurdle will tell us exactly where we are with him.”

The Twiston-Davies quintet were among 55 entries for the £155,000 contest.

Getaway Trump (left) heads the ante-post market for the Betfair Hurdle
Getaway Trump (left) heads the ante-post market for the Betfair Hurdle (David Davies/PA)

The sponsors make the Paul Nicholls-trained Challow Hurdle runner-up Getaway Trump the ante-post favourite at 8-1, with Al Dancer next in the betting at 10-1 along with Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby.

Other leading contenders for the home team include Monsieur Lecoq (Jane Williams) and Didtheyleaveuoutto (Nick Gifford).

There are seven entries from Ireland, including five from the stable of Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins in Uradel, Dolciano Dici, Cut The Mustard, Sayar and Saglawy.

Gordon Elliott’s High Expectations and Jessica Harrington’s Jetez are the other potential raiders.