Published 8th February
There would be a neat symmetry if DANDY DAN were to fulfil his potential in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase and there can be little doubt he’s bred for the job.
The progressive 6yo’s granddam Loving Around won the 1996 renewal for Edward O’Grady with second place going to Fellow Countryman, trained by none other than Kim Bailey whose only entry this year is the selection.
Dandy Dan is already a 3m2f winner over fences (at Kelso when last seen late October) and Bailey hasn’t bothered making an RSA entry, so the signs are pointing towards ‘the four-miler’ at this stage.
It’s possible his trainer might also consider the Ultima Handicap Chase for a horse currently rated 140, but that would mean dropping back a shade in trip whereas his pedigree suggests a stiffer stamina test is likely to suit.
Unproven on ground any easier than good to soft, he’d have a decent chance of favourable conditions at a ‘normal’ Festival and his bold-jumping, attacking style could prove an advantage in a big field of novices where trouble in running is concerned.
His bold-jumping, attacking style could prove an advantage in a big field of novices where trouble in running is concerned.
We’ll never know if useful, fellow trailblazer I Just Know would have beaten him at Kelso had he not fallen two out when still in front, but winning jockey David Bass wasn’t in much doubt, saying afterwards: “Dandy Dan still had plenty left.”
Either way it was an encouraging display from a novice having only his fourth start over fences up against a seasoned, classy handicapper (rated 145 and probably still on the upgrade, went off at just 14-1 for last year’s Grand National).
He will need to jump better than he did there but it’s a good sign he was still able to win a Class 2 handicap despite two or three mistakes and he had impressed in that department at Bangor previously.
It remains to be seen whether Bailey gets another run into him for experience but going straight to Cheltenham wouldn’t be a concern from a fitness point of view as the gelding has a good record fresh.