Here’s hoping that ‘Fortune’ favours the brave in the Grade 1 Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day

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December 21

Things have gone well for Alan when he has sent horses for the northern tracks this season. The highly-rated Favour And Fortune won at Wetherby, while we celebrated a double at Doncaster last Saturday, Whispering Royal providing Barbury with their first success for Chelsea Thoroughbreds when taking advantage of a soft lead in front, while Irish point-to-point winner Avakate, who has never shone on the gallops in the mornings, clearly comes alive in the afternoon and impressed Daryl Jacob when winning the Listed Mares Bumper on her first run for the yard.

However, it will be the M6 rather than the A1 on Boxing Day for Favour And Fortune, who takes on the big boys in the Grade 1 Formby Novices Hurdle at Aintree, a race formerly known as the Tolworth when it was previously run at Sandown.

Favour And Fortune, is 4-5 so far, his only defeat coming in the Festival Bumper at Cheltenham in March, and he has won both his hurdle races this season in the style of an above-average performer.

Alan said:”We’ve always had this race in mind, so we gave him a bit of break after Wetherby and, while it is a step up in class, he has been working well and looks a smart prospect who has earned his place in this field. I just hope the ground is not too bad, the more it dries up the better his chance.”

Harbour Lake, four times a winner over hurdles in the Hemmings colours, will accompany Favour And Fortune in the box to Liverpool, his target being a first venture over fences in the novices limited handicap chase.

Alan added:”Hopefully, we are finally getting Harbour Lake started on the chasing road. He has been schooling well and is an exciting horse to be sending over fences, but our plans to get him going a couple of weeks ago were thwarted by a small issue with his feet. That is all behind him now, and he is in good form and moving well at home.”

Another youngster Alan rates highly is Es Perfecto, whose second to Ginny’s Destiny on his chasing debut at Cheltenham last month was given a form boost when the winner went back to Prestbury Park last week and followed up in style.

Es Perfecto is out again at Kempton on Boxing Day and Alan added:”You won’t see a novice jump around Cheltenham better than he did that day. We gave him a bit of time after that race, but he is good order and ready to roll again.”

Dancing In Brazil, runner-up to a smart performer in Secret Squirrel at Kempton a month ago, returns to the Sunbury course on Tuesday for the race that Alan won a few years ago with Elgin when it was a strong two-mile novice.

Since then it has been changed to a maiden hurdle, probably to avoid a clash with the Formby at Aintree, but it gives Alan the opportunity to run Dancing In Brazil, who might find this trip on the sharp side again but ought to really come into his own when he steps up to two and a half miles.

Alan has also declared Selwan in the same race. He has had a wind operation since he ran well at Kempton a month ago until cutting out quickly turning into the straight.

Sceau Royal, just 10 days off his 12th birthday, has been a superstar for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede for the last eight years. He only beat one home in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle 12 months ago, and he has looked a shadow of his former self this season, so should he look to be crying out for his pension book when taking on reigning Champion Hurdler Constitution Hill in the same race, an honourable retirement might well be calling.