Jeremy Scott has been taken aback by the reaction to Dashel Drasher’s success in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.
In providing Scott with a first Grade One victory since Melodic Rendezvous in the 2013 Tolworth Hurdle, the eight-year-old continued his steep upward curve, winning his third race in succession – all at Ascot.
Whether he runs again this season, though, has still to be decided, with Scott considering the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and the Bowl at Aintree.
“He’s come out of the race really well,” said Scott.
“Originally I wasn’t that keen to run him again as he’s had three hard races all in a row.
“We’ll look at Cheltenham, but I think that’s unlikely, possibly Aintree, but it’s very much a case of we’ll see how he goes.
“It’s very exciting, but when I looked through there are really very few options. There’s the possibility of Aintree, but he’d probably have to step up to three miles there. Obviously there’s the two-and-a-half-mile race, but on likely quicker ground and a tighter track it could be too sharp for him.
“It will all very much depend on the ground, I wouldn’t want to be running him on fastish ground.
Looking back on the weekend, the Somerset-based trainer said: “To a point I think we were lucky that we ended up in a race with one who was rated immeasurably higher (Cyrname) than the rest of us who were all rated pretty similar.
“The reaction has been absolutely outstanding. People love horses like him who always pull a bit more out of the bag. They really latch on them, it’s lovely.”
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Dashel Drasher delivered a famous Grade One success for trainer Jeremy Scott and jockey Matt Griffiths in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
The front-running eight-year-old, scoring over course and distance for the third time in succession, took on favourite Cyrname early on the final circuit and then outpointed the latter’s stablemate Master Tommytucker up the straight to win by a hard-fought two lengths.
Dashel Drasher, sent off at 4-1, jumped well throughout and, after mastering Cyrname – who was again disappointing and quickly faded to be pulled up – he battled all the way to the line to keep Paul Nicholls’ second string at bay by two lengths.
Somerset trainer Scott was understandably emotional as he reflected on just his second Grade One win – and first in eight years – with a horse he bred as well as trains.
“This is very special, and you could say it was our Gold Cup,” he said.
“I don’t often get emotional, but I definitely had a bit of a welling up there as he won.
“My wife (Camilla) bred his dam – and she went on to win five point-to-points in a row.
“It’s a great thrill – but we had to think we were tilting at windmills against Cyrname.”
Scott need not have worried about that as Griffiths’ determination to put pressure on the favourite from the outset paid off, with Cyrname again failing to rediscover the form which made him the top-rated chaser in Britain after a wide-margin win in this race two years ago.
“At home, he doesn’t blow your socks off – but on the racecourse, he digs deep, doesn’t he,” Scott added.
“Our plan was to put Cyrname under pressure, go out hard and fast.
“But we fluffed the first fence, and Cyrname looked to be cruising away with it.
“But as soon as we got upsides him and went half a length up, he wilted.”
Dashel Drasher, previously successful in handicap and Graduation company this season, was taking a steep rise in class – and also had to turn round Haydock form with Master Tommytucker, who had beaten him by almost 20 lengths there in November.
He has a Cheltenham Festival option in the Ryanair Chase but is no certainty to be going there – this year, at least.
“He’s in the Ryanair Chase, but let’s get him home and see how he is before making any plans,” said Scott.
“He had an injury last year, so we’re not that keen to over-race him.”
Scott reserved praise for Griffiths, adding: “It’s great for Matt, who is a stalwart.
“He broke this horse in, as he does most of the horses, and is an integral part of the team.”
There were some anxious moments on the run-in, after Dashel Drasher made his only slight mistake and then began to look vulnerable – but as he has previously, he found more when asked.
Scott added: “In fairness to the horse, every time he has run here, he has done exactly the same thing – and Matt has always said ‘he’s always got a little bit left up his sleeve’.
“So that was kind of what I was hoping – but I have to say, watching it, I wasn’t quite sure. It didn’t look great!”
Griffiths felt he had to be slightly more conservative at the fences than on earlier Ascot visits with Dashel Drasher.
“Today his jumping was efficient, but that’s all,” he said.
“I couldn’t chuck him at the fences like I’d done before.”
The looming presence of Daryl Jacob on Master Tommytucker was an evident concern too, entering the straight, and Dashel Drasher had to be brave as well as accurate to see off the smooth-travelling runner-up.
Griffiths added: “I was wary coming into the straight that Daryl, was right behind me – and when my horse missed the last it was a relief when he picked up again.
“I’ve been part of his life since the first day he ran, so it’s massive to be associated with the horse.
“It’s a dream for everyone at the yard – and especially for Jeremy, because it is his first Grade One win for quite a while, and it makes it extra special that he’s a home-bred.”
Dashel Drasher has improved dramatically at Ascot of late, despite often jumping slightly left, and Griffiths does not anticipate a significant preference to race right-handed will dictate future plans.
He said: “I think he’ll be fine going the other way – even though he does tend to jump to the left, he never does it violently, and I thought he was a bit straighter today.
“If that was his last run of the season it wouldn’t be the end of the world – because next year he will stay further and he could be a Charlie Hall or Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy) horse.”
In the British Horseracing Authority stewards report following the race, a respiratory issued was cited by a representative of Nicholls for the performance of Cyrname.
Jeremy Scott was facing a sleepless night on Wednesday deciding whether to send stable star Dashel Drasher to Ascot or Newbury this weekend.
With two wins at Ascot over the two-mile-five-furlong trip of the Betfair Ascot Chase already under his belt this season, that might look the more suitable option. However, Scot is giving serious consideration to the rescheduled Grade Two Denman Chase at Newbury, which would mean a step up to three miles for the first time.
“We have still to decide where to go. He’s a shorter price for the Denman which would indicate somebody thinks he has a better chance in that,” said Scott.
“It’s whether we’d be disadvantaged by running at Newbury. At Ascot he’s won despite jumping a little left.
“If you’d asked me at the beginning of the season where would you rather run, I’d have said Newbury would suit him better.
“We ruled the Denman out originally as it was coming too soon after his last run, but then it reopened and it’s likely to be better ground.
“Would it be daft to run in the Denman? I don’t know, he has been very good around Ascot and it does suit him as he can swing down the hill and get enough back in the tank to come back up the hill. Maybe that suits him.
“If we hadn’t had the confusion of the Denman we’d definitely be at Ascot, as it’s an opportunity to run in a Grade One and if one or two underperformed and we upped our game then it would be happy days.”
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Dashel Drasher produced a tenacious performance to make every yard of the running and record a second Ascot triumph this season with victory in the bet365 Handicap Chase.
The Jeremy Scott-trained gelding jumped left at several of the fences, only to pull out extra under Matt Griffiths and hold Bennys King by a length and a quarter.
The 6-1 winner set what most observers thought might ultimately prove too frenetic a pace – but he came up for his pilot every time and those jumps enabled him to maintain a largely uncontested lead.
Griffiths said: “It’s massive for Jeremy to have such a nice horse on his hands. Owing to his lack of respect for the fences he wasn’t very good over them to start with, but he’s come good in a big way.
“I was more worried about what would happen over the first four fences, but he was going a gear quicker.
“He’s in the Sky Bet (Chase, at Doncaster), but whether he’ll go to Cheltenham, I don’t know, as he’s had a leg injury in the past. It’s funny he jumps left but has done more of his winning on right-handed courses, and I’m sure he’ll stay further.”
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Jeremy Scott is mulling over the options in the next few weeks for Dashel Drasher following his victory at Ascot last month.
The eight-year-old beat Itchy Feet and Caribean Boy when outsider of three in a graduation chase, for which he has been put up 9lb.
Scott is considering the bet365 Handicap Chase back at Ascot on January 23 and the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster a week later, as well as the Denman Chase at Newbury on February 13.
“He’s grand. We’re just slightly stuck for options where to run,” said the Somerset trainer.
“There isn’t too much obvious. There’s a handicap back at Ascot over the same trip or we could run in the Denman. You wouldn’t have many runners in that.
“He’s in a funny position. He’s been put up 9lb. You wouldn’t on the face of it say he was well-handicapped. He hasn’t run in a handicap, so we’re in a slightly difficult position at the minute.
“The Sky Bet would certainly be an option. You’d be upping him up to three miles, which on a flat track you’d hope he’d get.
“We had to put the entry in as there are only three or four options between now and the beginning of February. It’s just a case of keeping the options open.”
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Bennys King stuck to his task well to run out a convincing winner of the “For The Love Of Racing” Handicap Chase at Ascot.
Dan Skelton’s nine-year-old was having his second outing of the season, and Harry Skelton took up the running just after halfway in confident fashion.
The 13-2 shot gave what turned out to be the second last an almighty belt, but it failed to halt his momentum.
With the last fence omitted because of damage caused by a faller on the first circuit, Bennys King was kept up to his work to beat 33-1 chance Gardefort by six lengths.
The winning jockey told ITV Racing: “He was good today – he stays really well, so I was always confident to keep going forward because he handles the conditions well.
“It’s good placing by Dan – he had him in this and the three-mile race, so it worked out well.
“If there was ever a day I was glad we bypassed the last it was today, because he can just miss one or two, and he galloped on well.”
Dashel Drasher was earlier sent off the 11-2 outsider of three runners in the Injured Jockeys Fund Graduation Chase, but dominated throughout.
Nicky Henderson’s Caribean Boy was never in the same rhythm as when winning at Newbury recently, while Itchy Feet was almost detached throughout after an early mistake.
That was until Dashel Drasher began to tread water after the last as Itchy Feet belatedly picked up a head of steam, only to go down by two lengths.
The winner was inserted in the Ryanair Chase betting at 33-1 by Paddy Power.
Jonjo O’Neill is enjoying a decent season, and his Morning Spirit (9-2 favourite) gained a first career success in the Foundation Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Long-time leader Fawsley Spirit just about looked to have the upper hand when coming down at the last.
Winning jockey Jonjo O’Neill junior said: “He’s a chaser for next year. I didn’t think he’d handle the ground as well as he did – and the rain last night helped, I think, because it was very sticky yesterday.
“I think he wants nicer ground, so we might have been lucky that it was the first race – because it’s only going to get worse.”
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