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Sefton: Dancing City hits the right notes in Aintree success

The seven-year-old Dancing City scored on the second day of the Aintree Grand National Festival, easily getting the better of the short-priced favourite The Jukebox Man.

Dancing City ridden by jockey Paul Townend on their way to winning Sefton Novices' Hurdle
Image: Dancing City ridden by jockey Paul Townend on their way to winning Sefton Novices' Hurdle

Dancing City strutted his way to a cosy success in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, giving Willie Mullins and Paul Townend another big-race triumph.

A surprise Grade One winner at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, Willie Mullins' seven-year-old was third when upped to three miles for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Paul Townend's mount was placed alongside fellow Joe and Marie Donnelly-owned runner Shanagh Bob as the duo tracked the steady pace set by Albert Bartlett runner-up The Jukebox Man and Pertemps second Kyntara.

The tempo was increased turning for home and as Kyntara began to retreat it was Dancing City who appeared in The Jukebox Man's slipstream travelling menacingly.

Townend stalked his prey down to the final flight, with the rider simply having to keep the 4-1 winner up to his work in the closing stages as the gelding kept on for a five-and-a-half-length triumph, reversing Cheltenham form with The Jukebox Man who bravely held on for second.

Kyntara took a heavy fall at the last, but was thankfully able to walk away.

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.

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"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.

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"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."

Ben Pauling was quick to pay tribute to The Jukebox Man, who is owned by Harry Redknapp.

"He's now run two fabulous races at both Cheltenham and Aintree, to finish second in both of them is not bad, albeit we all want to win," he said.

"He was fairly pestered the whole way today. I thought Deutschy (Charlie Deutsch, rider of Kyntara) was softening us both up and Willie's horse has just been able to sit in behind and come through and win.

Navan 17-12-23  .Dancing City & Danny Mullins win the BetVictor Maiden Hurdle.(Photo HEALY RACING)
Image: Dancing City easily took the Sefton Novices' Hurdle

"Hopefully our horse is a very nice horse for the future, he's going to be very exciting over fences next season. We'll drop back to two and a half and see, as he doesn't need three.

"I think he might be a shade better over two and a half as he has got gears."

Redknapp, who had earlier seen his Cheltenham Festival hero Shakem Up'Arry finish last of 17 in the Topham Chase over the Grand National fences, said of The Jukebox Man: "He jumped so well, I just thought the other horse was pestering him the whole way and probably didn't let us get the breather in.

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"Kielan (Woods) said he's a fantastic horse and Ben said we could drop back to two and a half next season over fences, so we've got a lot to look forward to."

Of Shakem Up'Arry, he added: "He jumped well and never missed a fence, but maybe the run at Cheltenham might just have took it out of him, that's what Ben felt.

"It's difficult to win at Cheltenham and come back and win here, I'm sure the records tell you that. He's come back safe and sound and we'll look forward to next year with him too.

"I've had a lovely day and to see The Jukebox Man run so well again, I'm delighted.

"We've got Bowtogreatness as well, we think there's a big race in him in the future and we're going to Punchestown with him.

"I love it, it's my big passion and to go to Cheltenham and come here and have horses that can compete is great for me, it's what I enjoy."

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