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Dancing City backs up Aintree win with gritty Punchestown success

Dancing City backs up Aintree win with gritty Punchestown success
Dancing City backs up Aintree win with gritty Punchestown success

Dancing City had to dig deep to repel the challenge of fellow Willie Mullins runner High Class Hero in the Channor Real Estate Group Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

The winner was sent off as the 7-4 favourite in the hands of Paul Townend having claimed Grade One glory at last month’s Grand National meeting at Aintree, but he had ground to find with Stellar Story, who had beaten him by just over seven lengths in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.

Dancing City was clearly travelling well at the top of the straight and while he easily had the measure of Stellar Story, High Class Hero served it up to him after jumping the last.

Townend’s mount responded to every urging though, and while the second tried his best, Dancing City held a half-length advantage at the line.

The victory was a third at Grade One level for Dancing City, having also struck at the Dublin Racing Festival back in February and Mullins lauded the winner’s attitude.

Dancing City leads High Class Hero over the last
Dancing City leads High Class Hero over the last (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “It just shows how tough he is that he’s been to every racing Festival, it takes a lot of doing. It all goes well for the future going over fences.

“He did quite well coming back from Aintree. We haven’t done that before – Cheltenham, Aintree, Punchestown. It looks achievable so we might do more of it in the future!

“He didn’t show how good he was until we went out in trip.

“High Class Hero ran very well and looked for a minute that he might upset Paul.”

Betfair make Dancing City a 10-1 chance for next year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham

Townend added: “He was (a good winner in Aintree) and I thought he had a hard race the last day.

“He has danced every dance, so to turn up here and perform was a big performance.

“He was disappointing at the start of his career, but he is more than making up for it now.

“In Aintree, when I left the back straight, I thought I was stuffed and, by the time I got into the straight, I was back on the bridle so he is a little bit deceiving.”

He went on: “He doesn’t kill himself when he gets to the front and I got all mixed up with reins wrapped around my hand and everything, so all I could do was try to not interfere with him. He stuck it out well.

“He is indeed (progressive) and he is very deceiving. I was actually going to ride another one in Aintree and it got withdrawn on the day, so these things can work out for the best sometimes.

“I thought I bottomed him in Aintree, but he bounced out of it well and he’s a tough horse and a good horse.”

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