Horses To Follow » Deputy Dan

Deputy Dan

Deputy Dan ran a big race to finish second in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Settled just behind the leaders early on, he was always doing a little more than ideal, he was always racing a little more keenly than Leighton Aspell would have wanted. Even so, it looked like the race lay between him and long-time leader Kings Palace on the run down the hill to the second last and, after he had taken the David Pipe horse’s measure before the home turn, he looked by far the most likely winner, trading, as he did, at 1.08 in-running. However, he did appear to tire on the run to the final flight, and he got in tight to the obstacle and landed flat-footed. By that stage, Paul Carberry had conjured a run from Very Wood, and Noel Meade’s horse stayed on really strongly up the hill to win well, but it was to Deputy Dan’s credit that he was still able to stay on well enough to hold Apache Jack at bay and claim the runner-up spot.

This was Deputy Dan’s first attempt at three miles and, given his exuberant style of racing, it may be that it just stretched his stamina beyond its limit. It may be that he will learn to relax a little more through his races as he gets older and gains in experience – this was just his fifth race over hurdles and just the eighth race of his career – and it may be that he will get three miles well in time, but trainer Oliver Sherwood toyed with the idea of running him in the Neptune Hurdle over two and a half miles instead of in the Albert Bartlett.

He could do well dropped back down to two and a half miles now or, if he does race over three miles between now and the end of the season, he will presumably be dropped in and ridden less aggressively than he was here. He did handle the good ground well – his four wins have been gained on soft or heavy ground – so that opens up more options.

He will be of interest if he runs again over hurdles this season and, longer term, he could be an exciting staying novice chaser for next season if he goes down the chasing route. He should have no problem getting three miles over fences, especially as a six-going-seven-year-old.

14th March 2014