Horses To Follow » Dara Tango

Dara Tango

Dara Tango did well to finish second in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Navan on Sunday, given that he was held up out the back in the early stages in a race in which it was ultimately probably an advantage to be handy. Jumping the last flight with a circuit to run, the ultimate winner raced in eighth place and the ultimate third raced in sixth, while the horse who finished fourth raced in seventh place. Dara Tango was held up 22nd of the 23 runners. In that sense, he was a little unfortunate. In a 23-runner handicap with Pencilhimin in the race, it was reasonable to expect that the pace would be strong, that it would be run to suit Dara Tango’s hold-up style.

Even so, Tony Martin’s horse made nice progress as they ran around the top bend at the end of the back straight, and he latched onto the leading group as they rounded the home turn. Ninth or 10th jumping the third last flight, the first in the home straight, he stayed on well from there, and he looked a likely winner when he challenged Lite Duties at the final flight, where the leader made a mistake. However, Charles Byrnes’ horse found plenty on the run-in, but Dara Tango came nicely clear of the remainder under Ruby Walsh, and there was no disgrace in going down to Lite Duties, a progressive and talented individual who enjoyed a good run through the race, who was completing a hat-trick, and to whom he was conceding 9lb.

A close-up fourth behind Our Vinnie and Rule The World in a Grade 3 three-mile novice hurdle at Cork in November 2012, the Lando gelding was off the track for almost two years after that, returning in October this year to go down by a short head in a two-mile handicap on the flat at Catterick, before getting the race in the stewards’ room.

On his next run, his only subsequent run before Sunday, he ran a cracker to finish third in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock over three miles behind Aubusson and Big Easy. He came there with every chance between the final two obstacles that day, but he just didn’t stay on as well as the first two did.

Sunday’s run was probably another step forward from that, two and a half miles or two miles and six furlongs is probably optimum for him, and a fast-run race suits him well. It is very early to be thinking about Cheltenham handicaps, but the Coral Cup is an obvious medium-term target. Wherever he ends up at Cheltenham, or whether he goes there or not, he is a horse in whom to be interested for now.

14th December 2014