Dan Skelton’s stable update and latest plans for the Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival : We have probably exceeded our expectations with what we have achieved so far this season. We hoped we might produce a Grade 1-winning novice and we have found two over fences and a few hurdlers on the cusp of that level.
The older horses have been performing very creditably, led by Nube Negra who we always knew would be a good horse, if not quite as good as he has turned out to be.
We have taken the pressure off the bumper horses but have still produced the likes of Elle Est Belle, who has won a Listed race, Quid Pro Quo, who won on debut, and a number of others that we know will become really good hurdlers and chasers.
Having a good bunch of older horses allows these younger ones the time to mature, to strengthen and to be the best horses they can be.
My Drogo, Third Time Lucki, Cadzand
They will all get entries in the Supreme. I think they are three very good horses with not a massive amount between them, and they are all future chasers as well.
Third Time Lucki is probably the most mature, but they are all strong travelling horses who jump well. As time goes by I think My Drogo will become more the stayer.
I’ve not planned which race at Cheltenham we would target. I have a heap of options for Third Time Lucki and I wouldn’t be afraid of running him in the Kingwell, even though he is a novice.
A speed track like Wincanton would be perfect for him as he has loads of pace. Cadzand will probably run in the Betfair Hurdle and My Drogo will go to Huntingdon for the Sidney Banks.
He’s been amazing from the moment he ran at Cheltenham over hurdles, and I immediately said, ‘Let’s go chasing’.
We schooled him over fences, and I became very lukewarm because he wasn’t that great. Tim Gredley was very keen still and what Allmankind has done in improving like he has over fences has been remarkable as he looks very good now.
I don’t think there has been any fluke in his performances as he looks like has a real zest for it. He is going to Warwick for the Kingmaker and if Shishkin turns up we will have a match there. We’re not ducking that. Then we will go onto Cheltenham.
She will get an entry in the Mares’ Hurdle because she is the best mare in England, but I have a feeling that if we go to the Festival we will go for the Stayers’, unless the Mares race cuts up.
Roksana is really good at three miles now. She just got beaten by two better horses on the day at Ascot.
I don’t believe the Irish have one as good as Paisley Park and Thyme Hill, and if that’s the case we are not too far behind them. I’m not afraid of a rematch.
He will probably end up going for the Marsh. He goes to Sandown in February for the Scilly Isles en route. He wants to come back in trip rather than go up and I think the RSA could be a step too far too soon.
His biggest asset is his jumping and I’ve been delighted with his progress so far.
He will go straight to the Champion Chase. He beat Altior and, with Duc Des Genievres finishing third, the Desert Orchid form has substance, which was no fluke.
The whole way around you could pick him out as the winner, so I don’t think there is a case to knock it. Duc Des Genievres won an Arkle and ran in the Ryanair last year where he was beaten 15 lengths by Min.
He’s given Put The Kettle On 4lb and was beaten just over a length in the Shloer. There are no holes in the form.
I feel on any given day, Nube Negra will still beat the horses he beat the other day. I am looking at the next step rather than wanting to confirm what we saw.
I think he is an obvious horse for the Pertemps. He is qualified for it and is good around Cheltenham, plus he stays three miles very well nowadays.
He is owned by the Watts family, who are Pertemps. I’ve always said he might become a horse that enjoys this distance and it’s given him a new string to his bow.
He is in great form and looks fantastic. He was very unlucky at Cheltenham last time where I felt he would have won on a different day.
We think he will probably go to Warwick next week and probably then straight to the Festival.