Al Dancer is unlikely to defend his Boylesports Grand Sefton title at Aintree later this month, with Sam Thomas instead eyeing up a shot at the Trustatrader Peterborough Chase.
Having outbattled Gesskille to claim the Grand Sefton last season, he again showed his liking for the Merseyside venue when a staying-on third off a career-high mark in the Old Roan Chase – a race in which all the fences up the home straight were omitted.
The in-form 10-year-old, who kicked off his season with a commanding win at Chepstow, is as short as 7-1 in places to go back-to-back in the season’s first race over the National fences on November 11.
However, his handler believes the contest may come to soon for the thriving grey and is keen to wait an extra month for Grade Two action at Huntingdon on December 10.
“I was absolutely delighted with him and he put in another very solid run in what was a very competitive race I thought,” said Thomas.
“I don’t actually know if it helped or hindered him having the fences taken out, but it was just lovely to see him staying on again and run a really nice race off a career-high mark. We were absolutely thrilled.
“I think realistically the Grand Sefton will come a bit too soon. The reasoning behind going for the Old Roan was we felt he was in the form of his life and it is a very prestigious Grade Two race. We took our chance there and I would say it is fairly unlikely we will go to Aintree again now.
“Potentially the Peterborough maybe, going the other way round, will suit him. He does jump out a bit to his right and lugs a bit right so that would certainly help him. I think that might be on the calendar, providing he’s in good shape to go there.”
Thomas has made a blistering start to the winter with his string and another of his Chepstow scorers, Stolen Silver, is set to bypass another crack at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power Gold Cup in favour of remaining at three miles and a shot at Newbury’s Coral Gold Cup on December 2.
“We chucked him in the Paddy Power in case it was going to go absolutely bottomless there, but realistically the plan is to go to the Coral Gold Cup,” added Thomas.
“I think he certainly enjoyed himself over that trip and has a bit more to offer maybe. It certainly opens a few more doors for us and the fact he was a lot more settled in his race gives us a few more options really.
“You are dictated to what trip you can run a horse over by how they sort of conduct themselves in a race, but now he’s settling I think we have to step him up.”