Jeremy Scott has not completely ruled out running Dashel Drasher in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle at Lingfield on Sunday, although the Fleur De Lys Chase is still the favoured option at this stage.
A Grade One winner over fences at Ascot last season, the nine-year-old showed his versatility when an all-the-way winner at Newbury over hurdles last time out.
What is making Scott think twice is Dashel Drasher actually emerges as one of best in at the weights in the hurdle contest and it is over a more suitable trip, but the chase has an extra £50,000 up for grabs.
“The chase was definitely the original plan, but we just put a sneaky entry in the hurdle when we looked at the conditions and the entries,” said Scott.
“Relatively speaking he’s better treated in the hurdle and we haven’t totally ruled it out, as in a way it would give him an easier race as it’s two furlongs less – but the owners are keen on the chase to try to win the money.
“The money (£150,000) is extraordinarily good and the whole meeting is something that will hopefully grow as a venture in the future so that we have a nice target in January.”
A winner of 10 of his 19 races for owners Richard and Veronica Lock and Bridget and Patrick Tully, Dashel Drasher has truly been the horse of a lifetime.
“It takes a long time for one of these good ones to come along and he’s given them some wonderful days out. Let’s hope this weekend is another one of those,” said Scott, in a call hosted by Great British Racing.
“We bred him and the nice thing is we’ve got his full brother at home and he looks particularly useful.”
Dashel Drasher’s victory over hurdles last time out was his first since April 2019, taking his record over the smaller obstacles to five wins from just eight races.
“We wanted to get a run into him as we could see the ground wasn’t going to be great through January, so we went there to get a race into him,” said Scott.
“He looked relatively well treated over hurdles and thankfully it came off.”
His regular partner until this season has been Matt Griffiths, who is currently sidelined following a serious car accident. He has been replaced by Rex Dingle, who this week rode his 100th winner.
“As much as we’re trying to build a new partnership, it was probably what both horse and jockey needed just to get to know each other. It worked really well, Rex realised how well he can travel and jump,” said Scott.
“Rex has been coming into us for several years. The easiest thing would have been to go for one of the top jockeys, but the trouble is they might not have been available all the time. I and the owners felt it was important we had someone who knows him and can build the partnership up. Rex will ride in preference to anything else and that was the commitment we needed.”
Dingle said: “He’s a very likeable horse and has a great following. He loves being in front, even at home walking on the roads.
“He’s very tough, wears his heart on his sleeve and is a great horse to be associated with. I’m very lucky to be riding him.
“He seems to be quite a fast horse on testing ground, whereas on good to soft it can get him out of his comfort zone a bit. I’m not sure how much he enjoys it, he’s just very effective on it.
“I’m at a stage in my career where you need good horses to take you to that next stage and in unforeseen circumstances Drasher has come along.
“I speak to Matt quite regularly and he’s very much involved with this horse still. I spoke to him before and after Newbury, he knows him better than anyone.
“Matt is getting better and hopefully will be back on a horse as soon as possible.”