Dan Skelton previews his runners on day one of the Grand National Festival
We have five runners at Aintree on Thursday, starting with Protektorat (13:45) in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
It’s a competitive race and we are on a little bit of a rebuild after he ran below expectations at Kelso last time.
We have tinkered with his wind since – he had had his soft palate redone – and I feel he should stay 2m4f really well. He showed that in the autumn, so I think he is best at this trip for now and am hoping he can rediscover his early season form.
In the juvenile hurdle Harry is on John Locke (14:20) who ran really well in the Adonis at Kempton in February. We were always going to come here before we put him away, presuming he can be a novice next season as this is a deep race and we can’t expect him to beat the top two in the betting. I’ve been very happy with him. He is fresh and well and I think he will run nicely.
The same can be said for Carlos Felix (14:20). He is a high class Flat horse. He jumped beautifully at Musselburgh, it was just his wind cut out. We have had that done since. I know he has most to prove out of any of these but he has been doing everything right at home. We have got to see where we stand.
We run Destrier (16:40) in the Red Rum Chase. It’s a race I’ve had in mind for a long time. He was third in the Grade 1 at the track two years ago. He’s been struggling with the high mark he got as a result of that, and really slow ground. We thought he wanted it at one point but he clearly doesn’t. It now feels like everything is coming together and he definitely has a chance.
Elle Est Belle (17:15) contests the bumper. She is high class, the highest placed English horse in the Champion Bumper. I’ve been very happy with her.
She didn’t have that hard a race at Cheltenham. They didn’t go that fast. She stayed on past beaten horses and ran honourably to finish third. I hope that stands her in good stead. We have Pam Sly’s horse to beat, who looks very good.