Exeter Preview: Deputy Dan can make experience tell
Cheltenham Festival hopefuls Deputy Dan and Saphir Du Rheu clash in a fascinating 2m 4f novice chase at Exeter today (1.10), and the former is taken to make his experience tell and come out on top.
The Oliver Sherwood trained six-year-old went from strength to strength last season and developed into one of the top staying novice hurdlers in the country.
After opening his account over timber in facile fashion at Chepstow, the son of Westerner put in an impressive display to slam Masters Hill by nine lengths in a Grade 2 contest over 2m 5f at Warwick.
Deputy Dan then posted a career-best effort when a cracking second of 18 to Very Wood in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, keeping on well to go down by 4 1/2 lengths after a slow jump at the last cost him vital ground.
That is top class form, and Deputy Dan looks set to be just as good over fences judged on his two runs this season over the larger obstacles.
After being given a tender introduction when finishing runner-up to Virak at Fontwell when looking in need of the run, Deputy Dan duly improved and put in a sound round of jumping to make virtually all and comfortably beat Far West by 2 1/4 lengths at Plumpton.
There was plenty to like about the way he went about his business, and Deputy Dan looks the type who has plenty more to offer and represents a stable in fine form at present.
Saphir Du Rheu is the obvious danger to Deputy Dan in receipt of 5lb.
The Paul Nicholls trained gelding showed ultra progressive form over hurdles last season when winning three of his six starts.
After bolting up by eight lengths in a hot 16-runner handicap at Sandown off a mark of 130, the five-year-old followed up in facile fashion in the valuable Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton before going on to complete the hat-trick in Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las.
Those successes marked him out as an exciting prospect to tackle fences this season, but the son of Al Namix made an inauspicious start to his chasing career when unseating at the seventh in a race at Newbury won by Coneygree.
That was far from the beginning that connections would have been looking for, and it will be interesting to see if Saphir Du Rheu’s confidence has been affected.
The bold jumping Deputy Dan will certainly test Saphir’s fencing ability to the max, and if it comes down to a battle the Sherwood horse is definitely the one that I would want to be on.
Coral currently go 20/1 about Deputy Dan for the JLT at the Festival next March, and make him a 33/1 shot for the RSA.
Saphir Du Rheu is currently 16/1 for both races.
12.40: Unefille De Guye
1.10: Deputy Dan (NAP)
2.15: Hello George (NB)
2.50: Moving Waves
3.50: Wishfull Dreaming