Horses To Follow » Dandridge


Dandridge did well to get as close as he did to all-the-way winner Smiler in the two-mile handicap hurdle at Galway on Sunday.

The Doyen gelding was settled back in fourth of the eight runners by David Casey through the early stages of the race, as Smiler and Mikey O’Connor stretched them out with a brisk pace up front. The field did concertina up a little over the third last flight and on the run to the second last as O’Connor gave his horse a breather in front, and Dandridge jumped the second last well and got a nice gap along the inside rail. At that point it appeared as though he would be a big danger to Smiler but, his lungs filled up again, the leader kicked again off the home turn. Dandridge appeared to be caught a little for pace at that point, but he kept on really well over the last and up the hill to the line to get to within three lengths of the winner, clear of the rest.

This was a decent race. Fourth-placed Fosters Cross is 12 years old now, he is not the force he was when he finished second in the 2011 Galway Hurdle, but he still retains lots of ability and he loves Galway. Third-placed It’s All An Act was on a hat-trick, having won his previous two. Also, the winning time was good, the fastest time by far on the day, and five seconds and 10 seconds respectively faster than the other two two-mile hurdles.

Second twice in two runs in bumpers during the summer, Dandridge got off the mark on his second attempt over hurdles, winning his maiden on good ground at Galway in September. He was a little disappointing at Gowran Park in early October in his first handicap off a mark of 109, but he proved here that he was well up to competing off that type of mark. The handicapper has raised him just 3lb for Sunday’s run, which is more than fair. He is only five, he has run just four times in total over hurdles, and he has bundles of scope for further progress. In the short term, he could improve for a step up in distance, he raced here as if he would appreciate a greater test of stamina. Longer term he could make up into a useful steeplechaser.

26th October 2014