StableTalk: Dan Skelton talks through his Ascot and Haydock runners this Saturday
Dan Skelton blog on Ascot and Haydock runners
On Sunday I’m going to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
My Dad Nick is one of the finalists and we are encouraging and urging everyone to vote for him as many times as possible to see if we can get him into the top three. The voting opens during the show on Sunday night so hopefully loads of people will lend their support.
The racing community got behind AP McCoy for Sports Personality of the Year a few years ago and pulled it off, and the sport is kind of getting behind my Dad this time around too. He also has the whole of the Show Jumping world right behind him and so it could happen. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could do well.
It’s an incredible story. Normally when people suffer the neck break that Dad suffered they die; it’s that serious. People just don’t normally survive it, so for Dad to come back from that and win two Gold medals is just incredible, and his individual Gold medal was particularly special.
Dad’s been to the awards a few times but it’s the first time for me. To see him nominated at his age and alongside all these other sports stars, including the likes of Andy Murray, is just amazing and something to celebrate in itself. I’d also love to celebrate him winning though, so please vote for him.
We run Shelford in the Long Walk Hurdle at 2.25 Ascot. It’s clearly a big ask going in a Grade 1 and this is a very good Long Walk Hurdle; it’s as good a staying hurdle race as you’ll ever see outside of Cheltenham and we are going to find out where we lie. If we can survive at this level and he runs well then we can have a few more goes at it. If he gets well beaten we can go back to handicaps or novice chasing. This race will see a lot of light shone on Shelford and what route we should take with him. The ground will be fine for him.
3:35 Meet The Legend and Willow’s Survivor
In the old Ladbroke Hurdle at 3.35, I run two horses, Meet The Legend and Willow’s Saviour, who won the race for us three years ago.
Willow’s Saviour is a good horse and probably would have been third at the Festival over fences last March but for falling and that would have been no disgrace. We are trying him back over hurdles as he just had a little injury after that fall, so we are going to look after him. He will be competitive; it’s a hard job to say he’s going to win, but I think he’ll be competitive alright.
I’m very happy with Meet The Legend. We missed Cheltenham last month, which was his intended plan, but he wasn’t quite right for that so we looked after him. We are very happy with him now and I think he has a great chance, but it’s a very strong race. I really like this race for a couple of reasons. Obviously it was our first big-race win when Willow’s Saviour won it three years ago, so that will always be a great memory. It’s also a very valuable race in its own right so I like it a lot for that reason too!
Harry was always going to pick Meet The Legend as he’s the younger horse with lots of scope for improvement, so it was a pretty obvious decision. But Bridget will get on well with Willow’s Saviour and she takes 3 lbs off his back, and I’m really happy with him too.
11:50 Pokora Du Lys
Up at Haydock I run Pokora Du Lys in the 11.50. The track will suit him, the ground’s ideal and the trip is fine. He was running well at Southwell last time when he made a mistake two out and that ruined his chance. I don’t think he’s without a chance in this.
1:30 Master Jake
In the 1.30 I run Master Jake. This is really competitive, like all of the races up at Haydock, but Master Jake wouldn’t be without a chance in this. He ran well at Sedgefield in a novice handicap chase and although he was never going to beat the winner that day, I think there has been improvement since then. I think he can be competitive.
Corrin Wood runs in the Tommy Whittle at 2.40. There are sixteen runners so this is seriously competitive, but he’s back over fences which will suit him. Hopefully he can have a nice clear round with no excuses, as we are just pitching him back in to handicap chasing at that level and seeing how he gets on. We aren’t going there with bundles of expectations. He’s run well a couple of times over hurdles for us but what we need to see now is a good run over fences, it’s as simple as that.