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Dan Skelton previews his runners at Kempton, Fontwell and Hereford

| 26.02.2021

We are sending five runners to Kempton on Saturday where Encore Champs (13.15) goes in the first race.

He is having his first run for us. We had a little bit of a setback with him but we’ve done as much work as we can with him without taking him away for a gallop.

I feel like he will improve a fraction for the run but he has been progressing all the time at home and I hope we can have a productive spring with him.

John Locke (14.25) runs in the Adonis Hurdle first time up. It’s a deep race to run a horse in on debut, but the thinking behind it is, if you are going to win a race at this time of year with a horse like this, it might as well be a decent one. You don’t want to be winning a maiden hurdle with a horse that you think could go a long way next year.

I was at Paul Nicholls’s when the same owners had Zarkandar. We started him in this race and he won, going on to win at Cheltenham and Aintree. That was remarkable. It will be difficult for history to repeat itself, but we often look at this race if we have a horse of that type.

John Locke has done loads of jumping, looks great and works well. I think he is a nice horse.

I give a big chance to Calico (15.00) in the Dovecote. I was very impressed with him at Ludlow. He had shown plenty beforehand and was a high class Flat horse who jumped well. Kempton should be a good track for him.

Romain De Senam (15.35) contests the big handicap chase. He won last time and is in great form and looks well. Obviously he has a higher mark to contend with, but he has run well in this race a few times and I would like to think he will do so again. At home I have him as well as I can have him.

Monsieur D’Arque (16.10) runs in a handicap chase. The drying ground is perfect for him. He did get beat a few times in the autumn, finishing second a lot. I don’t think there is much wiggle-room in his handicap mark but he is in good health after his winter holiday.

William Of York (16.45) is in the bumper and he is a horse we like for the long term. He is a Kayf Tara who is definitely going to be more a hurdler and chaser than a bumper horse, but it’s nice to start him off on some nice ground.

I’m not expecting fireworks. His owners Mike and Eileen Newbould have had a good run lately and I think down the line this can be another good horse for them.


Molly Olly’s Wishes (15.10) runs in the National Spirit at Fontwell. She was great at Warwick last time and has to step up now against the boys. It’s a very deep race even though there are only a few runners.

I have been happy with her at home. As there were not that many options for her, because she is not going to Cheltenham, we thought we should dip our toe in the water. She gets 7lb or more from the others which will help.

Authorized Pursuit (14.50) runs in a juvenile fillies’ race at Hereford. She’s run okay in bumpers but she is a jumper. Drying ground will enhance her chances. We need to get her started and this looks like the perfect start.