Angels Breath and Al Dancer star for Dai Walters in Supreme hopefuls

Much to look forward to for owner

  • Thursday 31 January
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Owner Dai Walters has a decent double hand with Angels Breath and Al Dancer in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Angels Breath, trained by Nicky Henderson, is 5-1 ante-post favourite after winning at Ascot on his jumps debut in December.

Henderson has other interesting possibles in Mister Fisher and Champagne Platinum as he seeks a fourth Supreme success.

Al Dancer, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, made it three from three over hurdles with an impressive handicap success at Cheltenham in December and is favourite for the Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury.

Twiston-Davies said: “Al Dancer has been in good form since Cheltenham and the plan is to run next in the Betfair Hurdle, as it is a nice race to win.

“The Supreme is the long-term aim and the Betfair Hurdle will tell us more.”

A strong British challenge is bolstered further by Colin Tizzard’s Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle victor Elixir De Nutz.

Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins has won the Supreme five times and accounts for 23 of the 57 Irish-trained entries.

His string is led by Aramon, a 10-length winner in Grade One company at Leopardstown over Christmas, and promising maiden hurdle victor Klassical Dream.

Ante-post favourite Champ, from the Henderson stable, is among 139 entries for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles.

Champ propelled himself to the head of the betting with a commanding victory in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.

Henderson’s nine-strong team includes unbeaten Festival Trials Day scorer Birchdale, who like Champ is owned by JP McManus, and impressive Wetherby scorer Clarendon Street.

Gordon Elliott, who struck with Samcro last year, has 12 entries, headed by Battleoverdoyen and Vision D’Honneur.

Willie Mullins, who has lifted the Ballymore on four occasions, has a remarkable 33 entries out of Ireland’s total of 77.

They include top-class bumper performers Relegate and Tornado Flyer, plus the improving Easy Game.

The Irish-trained contingent also features Henry de Bromhead’s exciting mare Honeysuckle.

Mullins’ Carefully Selected, runner-up in the 2018 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, is among 107 entries for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles – despite not having had a race over obstacles yet.

The 58 Irish-trained entries also feature Derrinross, Sams Profile, Commander of Fleet and The Big Dog.

Ask Ben, trained by Graeme McPherson, produced a 50-1 shock at Newcastle and proved that was no fluke next time out when registering a 19-length success over three miles at Ayr.

McPherson said: “Ask Ben is in very good form and we were delighted with his performance at Ayr.

“His next start will hopefully be in the Albert Bartlett trial next month at Haydock. That meeting can have quite soft ground. He acts on that ground, but I don’t think he necessarily needs it.

“That race is four weeks before the Albert Bartlett at the Festival. So if everything goes to plan, it will be Haydock in the middle of February and Cheltenham in March.

“He is an extremely exciting prospect and to have a horse around like him at this time of the year is hugely exciting for me and all of the team.”

There are 59 entries for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, of which 33 are trained in Ireland.

Joseph O’Brien has a very strong hand thanks to high-class Flat recruit Sir Erec and Fakir D’Oudairies.

The leading British-trained hope is the Paul Nicholls-trained Quel Destin, who enhanced his claims with victory in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on December 27.

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