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Is Deputy Dan the Neptune “dark horse”?

Oliver Sherwood is favouring a crack at the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle with Deputy Dan, and the horse has the profile and form which suggests he has major claims in the contest.

The six-year-old has won both his starts this season by wide margins, and was particularly impressive last time out in a Grade 2 contest over 2m 5f at Warwick.

He stayed on strongly in the mud that day to score by nine lengths and had subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Splash Of Ginge a further seven lengths behind in third.

That is strong form and makes him look decent each-way value at the 16/1 currently on offer with Coral when you consider that Irving, who beat Splash Of Ginge by six lengths and a short-head on his latest start at Ascot, is the 8/1 second favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The son of Westerner also holds an entry in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, for which he is 14/1 with Coral, but Sherwood is favouring the Neptune at this stage – especially if the ground comes up testing.

He said: “He’s going the right way and improving with every run. He’ll go for the Neptune or Albert Bartlett and if the weather stays like it is I’d be tempted to go for the Neptune.”

Given that the Warwick race was over the Neptune distance of 2m 5f it looks the best option for Deputy Dan, who also boasts a nice profile.

Since the contest was first run in 1971, 21 winners have been six-year-olds so he is clearly the perfect age.

His victory at Warwick also ticked another important box as far as the stats are concerned, as it gave him a win in graded company. That is something which 14 of the last 16 winners had achieved.

Another positive is that he goes into the contest on the back of a victory, as just one of the last 30 winners of the Neptune had not done this last time out.

His trainer also knows what it takes to win the contest having done so previously with The West Awake (1987) and Rebel Song (1988). The race Deputy Dan triumphed in at Warwick was won last year by The New One before he went on to land the Neptune.