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About Dan:

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: “Cheltenham have done a fantastic job to get the ground to Good”

Coral horse racing ambassador Dan Skelton spoke elusively to us regarding his weekend runners at both Cheltenham and Aintree…

Cheltenham have done a fantastic job to get the ground to Good but it will have to be properly Good to run the likes of Savello and Knockgraffon. I’m going racing today and if I don’t like the ground then I won’t run them.

Savello stars as one of Saturday’s runners

3.30 Cheltenham – Savello

It’s a competitive race, of course it is, but Savello is a previous winner at Cheltenham. He’s always running in this type of race and I’m sure if he lines up that he will give his running. He’s been charging round at home like a youngster, he’s such a character. Bridget gets on really well with him and her 5lbs off is only a bonus. He’s got a place chance and he should run really well, and I’m hoping that he’ll pick up a race or two during the season. He doesn’t owe anyone anything, he’s a lovely horse and I’m sure he’ll do us proud again this season.

4.05 Cheltenham – Zarib

Dan Skelton says Zarib should run well as part of Saturday's action at Cheltenham.

Dan Skelton says Zarib should run well as part of Saturday’s action at Cheltenham.

I had Zarib entered in a beginners’ chase this week but I think I can wait to go chasing. He wasn’t particularly well in at the weights with a couple in the race so I decided against it. He ran a good race the other day but the ground got quite soft at Fontwell and I think he wants better ground. He ran well here in the spring, but he didn’t get the trip when he ran on Swinton Hurdle day by which time he was probably over the top anyway, so it’s not fair to judge his stamina on that alone. He’ll probably go chasing after this unless he wins it; he has a nice weight and should go well.

4.40 Cheltenham – Knockgraffon

Knockgraffon is a really good jumper, I wouldn’t start a horse around Cheltenham otherwise. He’s showing all the right signs at home, so he’ll run as long as the ground is suitable and I do expect him to leave his hurdle form behind over fences. He’s a very nice horse, we just have to be a bit careful about the ground.

Robin Roe features on Sunday races

1.40 Aintree – Robin Roe

I’m really excited about this horse and pleased that we can get started with him. I think the ground is going to be great up at Aintree, so it should be absolutely fine for him. We start him off in this maiden hurdle, although Paul has a nice horse in the race in Winningtry. This is always a decent race, but I do like Robin Roe a lot. He’s won a point to point and he’s won a bumper, so we are expecting a decent level of form from him. I’m just looking forward to getting started; he’s jumped well at home and done everything right, so now’s the time to see him on the track.

3.15 Aintree – Born Survivor

Born Survivor is rated as one for the future from Dan Skelton.

Born Survivor is rated as one for the future from Dan Skelton.

Born Survivor gets a bit of weight which is good as the top weight runs. He was a really nice horse last year, although he wasn’t quite at his best when he ran in the Grade Two at Warwick after Christmas. I do think he is a really nice horse, especially for the future when he goes chasing, I just thought another year over hurdles wouldn’t do him any harm. He gets to start the season in a nice handicap round a nice track like Aintree which is ideal. I think he’ll build on this run, and really we are looking after him until we go chasing next year.

All the horses are right where want them bar the last couple of percent because we can’t get on the grass due to the lack of rain, that’s the honest truth. They are bang there and ready, but would just be that little bit better if we could get on the grass. But that’s the same for everyone’s horses, we’re all in the same boat.

3.50 Aintree – Three Musketeers

Everyone knows about Three Musketeers and how much I like him. The plan is to step him up to three miles soon but this race is a good starting point. We have a nice weight as Smad Place runs, I think the track will suit him, and I hope that the ground is just on the soft side of good. I’m really happy with him; he’s an honest horse, he jumps nicely and tries hard. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t run really well off that kind of weight, fitness won’t be a barrier to him winning and he has the ability. That said I’m expecting him to improve when we step him up in trip as I know three miles is what he needs. The aim is to start in this race over two and a half miles, get the freshness out of him, and take it from there.

Related

The StableTalk archive has all of Skelton’s exclusive thoughts from past National Hunt meetings.

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