The Dutchman is nearing a return from injury as his new stable eyes up a possible Coral Scottish Grand National challenge.
Victory in the 2018 Peter Marsh at Haydock put The Dutchman in the reckoning for that year’s Grand National, and he was still in touch at Aintree when unseating at Foinavon on the second circuit.
The 10-year-old has not run since that big effort almost two years ago, and is now trained by Tristan Davidson in Cumbria – having switched from Colin Tizzard’s yard.
Davidson reports the stayer, useful over hurdles as well as fences for both Tizzard and previously Sandy Thomson, is ready to run again – following treatment for a suspensory problem – once the rain relents.
“He’s well, and I’m just waiting for it to dry up,” he said.
“He had a suspensory – and I don’t want to run him on tacky, horrible, heavy ground.
“We’ve come this far, and I don’t want to mess him up by running him on bad ground and finishing him.
“We need better ground for him – it’s just against us now, but it’ll come right eventually.”
When it does, Davidson is planning an initial comeback over the smaller obstacles.
He added: “In an ideal world now, I’ll probably go for a two-and-a-half or three-mile hurdle – and then hope to go for the Scottish National.
“He’s rated 137 over hurdles, so we’ll go down that road with him. Then they’ve dropped him 5lb (over fences) for being off for nearly two years – so we’ve got a few options with him.”
A return to Aintree was never among them, in the minds of Davidson or The Dutchman’s owners – with the big focus instead on a trip to Ayr two weeks later, on April 17.
“I’d rather go for something like the Scottish National – I think the National is probably too big a step for us,” he said.
“I’d rather have a chance (of winning), like in the Scottish, than finishing fifth or sixth and having a hard race in the National.
“They were my thoughts, and the owners'”
It has been a patient process to help The Dutchman back to fitness, after his trainer spotted an issue on his arrival in new surroundings more than a year ago.
“He came to me, and as soon as he got off the box I wasn’t happy with him,” said Davidson.
“We got him scanned, and that didn’t show anything. Then we got an MRI scan, and it showed the top of the suspensory was torn.
“So we’ve given him time off, and he’s had shock waves (therapy). We’ve done everything right (for him), so I don’t want to waste him now.”