Cheltenham Gold Cup
Confidence in The Real Whacker for Oaksey Chase with Sandown conditions set to suit

Confidence in The Real Whacker for Oaksey Chase with Sandown conditions set to suit

The eight-year-old, an 11-2 chance for the £80,000 contest, was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. His trainer believes that testing ground was the sole reason for his exit before the second-last fence. Forecasting quicker conditions at the Esher venue this weekend, he expects an improved performance from last year’s Brown Advisory hero.

“I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Neville, the trainer. “He’s in great form, he’s fresh and he kind of had an easy week after the Gold Cup as he didn’t go to Aintree. When we saw the ground was going to be good, we knew it was the place to go to.

It’s a nice race and we’re hoping he’ll get back on track.” Neville knew it would be a challenge for his stable star to get close to the likes of Galopin Des Champs and Gerri Colombe at Cheltenham due to the ground but wanted to give him every opportunity to run. “It was an okay run, although the heavy ground was absolutely disastrous,” he said.

“I walked the track on the Wednesday and it was heavy, but we had more rain on Thursday and it made it worse. He was in such good form and he came out of it fine, but it’s been a long, hard winter this year.” In a Grade 2 event on Saturday, a strong field of 17 remains in contention, with title-chasing Willie Mullins responsible for five entries.

The 11-year-old ran close to a career-best when runner-up to Forward Plan in the Coral Trophy at Kempton in February, and his trainer has been thrilled with his progress this season. “I couldn’t be happier with how Al Dancer has performed all season – he’s been a superstar,” he said. “Hopefully he can put in another nice performance, although we know it’s going to be a very tough race.”

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