DANDALLA's owners talk at length about their amazing experience of owning a Royal Ascot Winner. You can watch a reply of the race by clicking on the video.
I had shares horses in the UK previously, but over the last 4 years I have worked in the US on an expat assignment that completes this summer. Since I was returning to the UK I contacted Nick to see if he had any fillies for sale and fortunately he told me he had this one (Dandalla) that was going well at home so I jumped on board.
I was lucky enough to have a share in Sandiva that Nick purchased in the past also and my other good share was Kool Kompany.
Obviously, I have quite a few that were nowhere near that good also.
Super exciting times when we get the race planning updates (and the unsuccessful offers!) at the moment and privileged to be on board and hoping we can see her in the flesh in the future in one of her group races.
Having had a positive experience with Nick Bradley Racing with previous horses, Dandalla came along as an exciting filly with Nick and Karl’s recommendation. Whilst it’s still exciting as an owner even on a cold night at Wolverhampton, seeing Dandalla entered with a chance at Royal Ascot was a great feeling. Watching Dandalla fulfil the hopes of Karl, Nick and her owners was great and the dream continues as she is now rated the highest 2-year-old in Britain!
I’ve been following horse racing for 40 years, and over the last few years bought into various horses as a part-owner. Choosing NBR as a syndicate was easy - Nick Bradley is a shrewd and knowledgeable judge who really cares about delivering a great syndicate experience. With Dandalla it was more about the trainer than the bloodline for me - the early vibes were good, and Karl is very talented. We are further blessed to have Ben Curtis on our side, a future champion I’m sure. The journey so far has been fantastic...the anticipation of that Newcastle debut and the impressive result, then the build up to Royal Ascot. The way she destroyed her opposition in the Albany was incredible and will live long in the memory. The betting side of it was the icing on the cake, as all my money was down at 25/1 and 16/1 - but the greatest aspect was fulfilling a lifelong ambition to have a Royal Ascot winner...and by God did she win!
We have had shares in horses with Nick for about 5 years now and because we are retired the main aim is to attend the races to watch them. Nick always gets tickets for owners and we have met some lovely people during our trips. We have had numerous winners and we found ourselves at the end of the last flat season with just 2 horses after others were sold. These are Geizy Teizy who won a Class 2 in December and Baronial Pride who is rated 86 after injury – both now 4. Therefore, we wanted a 2-year-old with Nick for 2020. We met Matt Brown through Baronial Pride and have become good friends albeit that he is far more knowledgeable than me! He recommended that we buy into a Gutaifan filly called Fev Rover. Therefore, in late January we bought a share in the horse, a recommendation from Matt is good enough for us! And so, we were sorted for the 2020 season having bought another chaser for the winter too to replace Duel at Dawn who ran at Cheltenham for us. We then went away on holiday as we were taking part in a documentary for French television in Borneo about the plight of orangutans.
Unknown to us a small number of shares in Dandalla became available while we were away and selling quickly. Matt is a fan of Dandy Man and was interested in getting involved and wondered if I might be too but he couldn’t get in touch with us. Therefore, he purchased a share for him and one for us on the chance that we would have it. When we got home, I clearly remember the discussion and ultimately, we agreed to take the share off him without any idea of her pedigree or how the horse looked. We still haven’t seen her. We then simply forgot about horses while the Covid crisis occupied our time.
It wasn’t until we started to get the reports from Karl that we thought we may have a decent horse; Karl is not known for getting excited for no reason about a horse. To have a horse mentioned in the same breath as Laurens is simply a dream come true. And the rest is history…
And so a big thank you to Matt for selling us his extra share in the favorite for next year’s 1000 Guineas, we will be forever grateful! I’m not sure he will think he did the right thing right now….
On the day of her Newcastle race we were quite nervous because while the reports were good no one knew anything about any of the horses in the field. The nerves changed to excitement around 2f out when Ben asked her to move forward and she shot clear to win easily. We then knew she was decent but what did she beat, no one knew, but at least she did it well and 7-1 looked a steal at the time. We celebrated with a prosecco and got on ante post for the Albany at 25-1. Having a Royal Ascot runner was a dream come too, just a shame we couldn’t attend. I remember thinking what a joy it would be to run to a place…..
I got involved in the Dandalla syndicate for a bit of fun really, not with any expectation of actually making a sound financial investment.
The last two horses I had an involvement with were Sandama in 2017 (with Nick Bradley Racing), in conjunction with a friend, and then Midas Maggie, in a private syndicate with a group of seven other friends, in 2018. For all we had some enjoyable days at the races with both fillies, neither of them proved successful on track. Despite this, I craved that 'winning owner' feeling and thoroughly enjoyed the social experience.
I got married in 2019 so took a break from syndicate ownership last season, but after the wedding was paid off, I decided to get involved again for 2020.
One of the horses I bought into was Zihaam when Nick ran an offer on Roger Fell's gelding just before Christmas. Although Sandama had struggled for NBR previously, I admired Nick's honesty and that he had sold her at the end of her juvenile season - rather than keeping her in training for another year - as some others in the game might have done. When you are buying on a budget, they cannot all win races, but you hand your money over and take your chance.
After buying into Zihaam I was then on Nick's e-mailing list, and when the opportunity later came around to buy into Dandalla with Karl Burke, I couldn't resist.
My friend had held a share in Melesina, who Nick bought for 22,000gns in 2015 and sold for 400,000gns two years later after she had won a Group 3 for Richard Fahey, so I knew Nick had a good eye for a bargain. I work in the racing industry, so I was also well aware of Nick's previous success in his time buying horses at Middleham Racing too.
I must admit, though, when the Covid pandemic struck in the spring and racing was suspended in the UK, I was mortified. You buy into horses to watch them race. Obviously, it was mitigating circumstances stopping racing at the time, though, and not any fault of NBR or the Burke team. The enforced break did make actually seeing her race (albeit through the TV) even more special once racing did resume, however.
For someone who gets a buzz out of watching and betting on racing most days, and whose livelihood depends on the sport, not having any racing taking place in the UK was very tough to take. Home schooling the kids isn't easy in the blazing summer temperatures, and with no football, or indeed any other sport on offer in the UK during the 'lockdown' period either, I must admit, I was utterly fed up. Zoom quizzes and Netflix only kill the boredom for so long. Admittedly, the country did have bigger issues to worry about at the time, but still......
Behind the scenes, though, the show went on in the racing industry throughout lockdown. Karl and his team were still working and Dandalla was being ridden out daily. Nick and his team were also working hard and continued to send regular updates, including several videos per week, of her working at home. That gave owners like me, utterly fed up during lockdown, something to get excited about, and the eagerness to see her get to the track heightened when the reports started to come though - "Karl thinks she is as good as any other juvenile filly he has" etc.
I have always been a big fan of Karl - after what he has done with Laurens and Quiet Reflection, as well as having a good record with his juveniles - so when we heard Karl was very confident ahead of her racecourse debut at Newcastle I backed her on raceday morning at 4/1. I couldn't believe she drifted to 7/1 after the show and when she won, I was absolutely buzzing. I'd told all of the lads at work and loads of my pals at home to back her. My phone nearly melted when she crossed the line.
She had looked so professional at Newcastle that we immediately started dreaming about Royal Ascot - especially since the meeting was only a few weeks away this year and she'd laid down an early marker on the second day of the new UK season. I nibbled a bit of the 25/1 for the Albany after Karl's comments about her going up in trip after Newcastle, though there was still the danger she may end up going for the Queen Mary, so it wasn't until Royal Ascot week itself I properly topped up.
The day the final declarations came in her odds had been cut to 16/1 to 12/1, though some firms were then offering four places each-way. I began backing her in each-way multiples with everything I fancied at Royal Ascot. I was left with egg on my face after blanking in every race on the Tuesday, but when Russian Emperor, Dark Vision and Tactical all won on the Wednesday, I then had some tasty little wagers rolling up for Friday.
On Thursday evening I started to check several speed figure websites to see how she fared in the ratings ahead of the Albany. Although not all of my sources had rated Wes Ward's American raider or Aidan O'Brien's Irish challenger, it seemed Dandalla came out strongly among the home contingent so I was hopeful we might at least nick a place.
I backed her again in a double with Tim Easterby's Art Power, who was favourite for the opening sprint handicap on Friday off a mark of 97 but had been one I'd been waiting to bang since seeing him win at York the previous season.
It was a funny feeling counting down the hours to the race on Friday. We should have all been heading down to Ascot in our top hats, of course, but such are the times...... (to be honest, I hate all the hats and pomp at Ascot anyway so, in that respect, being able to roar her home in my scruff was a blessing in disguise)!
I was working all day and Friday, so had a nice distraction to pass the time in the morning, but the excitement started to hit me about 1.30 pm, even though I was too busy to join the other owners on the Zoom chat.
My home schooling lesson for the kids that morning had been 'art' - they drew pictures of Dandalla winning at Newcastle (please find attached - the one with the jockey on is by my 10 year old and the other is by the 7 yo!) and were excited for the race as I was. Their afternoon assignment was 'media studies & rocket science' - watching Dandalla take-off up the Ascot straight and blast off into orbit!
When the race itself was underway, when the field congregated down the middle of the track, with us having been drawn on the flank, I wasn't quite sure how it was going to pan out. Thankfully Ben Curtis managed to tuck in and get some cover. The moment that really got me off my seat was 2f out when the camera panned out and showed a head-on view of the field, rather than side-on view we'd seen mid-race. We saw Ben moving stylishly through a gap, while most of his rivals started to come off the bridle. I was trying to explain to the kids that when a jockey's arms aren't moving in a Group race it is because they are riding a classy horse, and it was, at that moment I realised myself, "Christ, we have a nice one". Goosebumps stuff.
It was always at the back of our minds, stepping up from 6f and trying softer ground, that she might not have seen out the extra furlong in the Albany, but Karl had been confident she'd stay it, and that was good enough for me before the race. When Ben asked her to go and win, she just kept pulling further clear. To win the Albany like that was absolutely scintillating.
In terms of my experience in horse racing, everything peaked right there for me. We'd just watched a 22,000-euro recruit hand out a six-length beating to the leading 6f fillies in the country. We knew she had been attracting interest from the big boys before the race.....we can only imagine the level of interest there is going to be in her now.
Who knows what the future holds with the exciting daughter of Dandy Man? A Royal Ascot victory and now talk of Group Ones, potential trips to France and the 1000 Guineas seems rather crazy. It is the sort of stuff every owner dreams about, yet it is happening with Dandalla!
Being involved with NBR in Dandalla has certainly given me more excitement than the 0.2 % interest rate on my ISA has done.
Sign up for exclusive news and offers from Nick Bradley Racing