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Dan has worked with horses for his whole life and spent nine years as Assistant Trainer to Champion National Hunt Trainer Paul Nicholls. With that invaluable experience under his belt, he has embarked on his own training career and now has almost 200 winners under his belt, including Willow’s Saviour’s memorable victory in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot. Dan will be providing a unique insight into his horses and their chances exclusively for Coral.

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StableTalk: Dan Skelton talks his Cheltenham, Lingfield and Southwell weekend runners

Weekend runners at Cheltenham, Lingfield and Southwell

Coral ambassador Dan Skelton has a busy weekend ahead, but beforehand has taken some time to outline his upcoming runners at all of Cheltenham, Lingfield and Southwell.

We had a good time of it last weekend. Its ‘Afreebee won well and he will now go to Haydock at the end of January for the Altcar Novices Chase. Asylo also won on debut for us. He’s a real nice bumper horse, and will be a great novice hurdler for next year. I couldn’t have been happier with him.

Saturday

12.40 Cheltenham – Zarib

Dan Skelton's Zarib features among his Cheltenham runners on Saturday.

Dan Skelton’s Zarib features among his Cheltenham runners on Saturday.

Different Gravey could probably be different gravy! Whisper if he’s over his problems will also be a tough rival.

Zarib jumped nicely round Towcester and he wouldn’t be he had he not. Different Gravey does set a stiff standard, but after that he could be competitive for a place.

1.15 Cheltenham – Savello

He ran moderately at the November meeting. He seems in good form at home and he’s getting a bit of weight of Vaniteux which is ideal, but there are a few in there underneath him in the handicap that are younger and probably have a bit more room in their marks than him. We’re just going to go there and see how he gets on. He doesn’t owe anyone anything. Hopefully we’ll pick up a race during the season. At the end of the day he’s a ‘Saturday horse’ and he’s running on a Saturday at Cheltenham which is what it’s all about.

2.15 Cheltenham – No Hassle Hoff

He surprised us all a little bit with the way he won last time as at home he doesn’t show a great deal. He went to Fontwell in a moderate two runner race and was going to win on the bridle when he came down at the last. He then made amends at Hereford, but he could have beaten trees that day and we just wouldn’t know. This is obviously a much bigger test. I have a lot of respect for both West Approach and Wholestone. If you can beat one of them you can beat both of them as they are basically pound for pound the same horse. The others are in the same boat as we are, not knowing if they good enough. I do fancy our horse a bit. He’s not without a chance and West Approach and Wholestone have to give him 7lbs. He’s a definite stayer, the track will be fine, so let’s go and see what he can do.

3.00 Cheltenham – Mister Miyagi

Dan is looking forward to seeing Mister Miyagi in the 15:00 at Cheltenham.

Dan is looking forward to seeing Mister Miyagi in the 15:00 at Cheltenham.

I’m really looking forward to running Mister Miyagi. I couldn’t be happier with him. We have My Tent Or Yours to beat and he gets all the allowances. We only have to give him 2lbs which is ideal. Some of the other horses have to give him 8lbs, and give us 6lbs, and I think that’s very much in our favour. If My Tent Or Yours turns up in Champion Hurdle form then we aren’t going to beat him. If he turns up in the form he showed at Haydock we could. It’s a funny old race but I’m happy with our horse.

3.30 Cheltenham – Debdebdeb

Debdebdeb hasn’t run since Chepstow in October. She ran a tidy race that day. They didn’t go all that hard and I wish they’d just gone faster on the day. She’s back in against other ladies here but it’s a very strong race. I didn’t expect it to be quite this strong. Our horse is not without a chance, and I’m very happy with her, but this is as competitive a mare’s handicap hurdle as you will ever see.

11.55 Lingfield – Hatcher

Hatcher is a really nice horse. I’m a bit surprised to see fourteen runners in the race. Normally they get around six or seven runners in these all-weather bumpers. It looks a strong race but our horse is a nice horse for the future. I do like him but I see him more as a jumper.

2.15 Lingfield – Mister Grez

He was pulled up at Haydock the other day in his first run back from an injury. I’m in the dark with him. He was never a horse that shows much at home anyway. So I don’t really know what to expect. I’d like to think that he could go and get some confidence up, and then win in January, February time, when the races aren’t as strong.

Sunday

Dan has four runners at Southwell this Sunday.

Dan has four runners at Southwell this Sunday.

12.45 Southwell – Kitchapoly

Kitchapoly has been second for us twice. He’s got a chance in what doesn’t look a great race.

1.20 Southwell – Earlshill

Earlshill is a point to point winner that has taken a little time to come to hand. This is quite a deep novice’s hurdle. If he finishes in the first four I will be delighted. I think he is a three mile chaser for the future, so I would be surprised and delighted if he were to win this. I just feel that first time out we should have realistic expectations.

2.25 Southwell – Late Night Lily

Late Night Lily is in good form and will love this trip. The ground will be fine. She’s won her last three bar the one race where she was brought down. She has got to have a chance.

2.55 Southwell – Bubba N Squeak

Laser Light will be hard to beat based on official ratings. But I wanted to try the trip for Bubba N Squeak as he’s by Dom Alco. I think it will be a help to him. He finished second to a nice horse of Jonjo’s last time that’s won again since. But it’s going to be tough to beat Laser Light who’s already rated 132.

Dan

Related

Visit the StableTalk archive for more from Dan.