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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 with the lowdown on his 15 runners on Saturday and Sunday

Saturday

12.40 Newbury – Welsh Shadow

We’ve put a tongue strap on Welsh Shadow. This is a very competitive novices’ handicap chase and he’s got to put a bad run behind him but I hope he can do that. I have always thought highly of him. This race is very hot but the handicapper has given him a bit of help so I think he can be competitive. I have spoken to the clerk of the course, Richard Osgood, who said the ground was good to soft on the chase track which will be ideal for Welsh Shadow.

1.50 Newbury – Robin Roe

I am really, really excited about running Robin Roe and we hope he’s the big one that we all crave. His preparation has been good, we’ve always been targeting this race and now we are very excited. At the moment there’s a big air of expectation about the horse and we hope that can continue. The opposition is decent as you’d expect with Ami Desbois competitive in a Grade 2 last time, Baltazar D’Allier coming over from Ireland, Cultivator 140 rated, Peak to Peak having won nicely at Fontwell and Messire Des Obeaux probably the one we all have to beat. It’s a very good race so we are going to learn a lot more about our horse.

2.25 Newbury – Knockgraffon

It was always the plan for Knockgraffon to come back for this race. We are really happy with him, his jumping at home has been good and we know he likes the track. He has gone up a lot in the weights but there are only four runners in the race so hopefully we’ve got a big chance.

3.00 Newbury – Born Survivor & Willow’s Saviour

Born Survivor features among Dan Skelton's New Year runners at Newbury.

Born Survivor features among Dan Skelton’s New Year runners at Newbury.

Born Survivor ran okay last time but he just petered out a fraction late on. He’s growing up all the time and these handicaps will make a man of him for when he goes chasing next year. He comes here with a chance.

Willow’s Saviour wants this trip now. He was running well over this distance at Cheltenham in the novice handicap chase when he fell at the Festival, so hopefully he will go well.

3.35 Newbury – Mister Universum

He is a highly rated horse on the Flat and we think quite highly of him too. He jumps nicely but horses coming off the Flat don’t necessarily take to it immediately on their first start. I was chatting to the owners about the fact that racing with obstacles in his way will be new to him and the first experience will do him good. Red Tornado last season was a good example of that where he went to Stratford first time and finished third. He then went on and won his next five! That first start over jumps is an important learning experience.

3.20 Warwick – Global Ruler & Just For William

Both are babyish, backward types and they will both improve bundles for the experience; both are nice horses. Global Ruler is a great big horse, and while Just For William is a bit sharper he is definitely a stayer. They are both getting their first taste of the job and they will improve considerably for it.

1.40 Uttoxeter – Robin Of Locksley

I quite fancy his chances on this track. He’s not been easy this season so far, as he’s come down the hill really well twice at Cheltenham and then not really gone up it. I feel that bringing him back to this flat track, which is not dissimilar to Southwell where he won last year, gives him a fair chance. That said it is quite a deep race. He should go well.

3.25 Uttoxeter – The Mistress

She goes well. She should handle the ground based on what we’ve seen at home. She should travel and I think she’ll run well. I’m not saying she’ll win but I can see her running well.

Sunday

2.10 Catterick – The Bay Oak

The Bay Oak is Dan's only runner at Catterick on New Year's Day.

The Bay Oak is Dan’s only runner at Catterick on New Year’s Day.

I think The Bay Oak has a great chance in this. Valadom has a high chase rating and they are trying a novice hurdle with him so he’s clearly a danger, but I think we have a good chance of beating him. He’ll be fine with the small field, he stays this trip and I think he’ll go well.

1.55 Fakenham – Djarkalin

I think Djarkalin probably has a favourite’s chance in this. He’s been second three times and just keeps bumping into one. He probably just made things difficult for himself last time by wiggling around at Ludlow but he’s got an obvious chance in this.

12.30 Musselburgh – Does It In Style

Does It In Style is quite a nice horse. He was travelling well the other day but got brought down on the bend and is lucky to escape unscathed because it was one hell of a crash. He probably just needs to get some confidence back after that, and that is the priority first and foremost. We want to see a clear round with him.

1.40 Musselburgh – Pain Au Chocolat

Dan expects Pain Au Chocolat to be competitive at Musselburgh.

Dan expects Pain Au Chocolat to be competitive at Musselburgh.

He probably had an impossible task last time trying to beat Cloudy Dream giving him weight, but I think this trip is good for him. He will like the better ground and I expect him to be competitive here.

2.50 Musselburgh – Superb Story

He had three great runs last term and then it was a bit of a disaster at Galway. I’m really happy with him and looking forward to running him. He’s won around the track and I’m hoping that this puts us back on track for the season ahead.

I’m really happy with how 2016 has gone. The horses have run well, we’ve achieved a great deal and end the year where we hoped to be. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions – there’s no point as I’d only break them – but we have targets for the year. As a Jumps trainer if you can have over 100 winners and earn over £1 million prize money in a season it’s a strong benchmark. It’s hard to do, only ten trainers have ever done it, so that’s my New Year’s wish to achieve those targets. Of course one day we’ll want to go much further than that benchmark, but for now that’s our objective.

Related

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