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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 through his Newcastle and Sandown Saturday runners

Dan Skelton’s Newcastle and Sandown Saturday runners

I was really pleased with Superb Story’s win on New Year’s Day. He has a good record first time out, but while I’d done a good bit with him, I’d still left him probably a bit more short of work than I have before, and not surprisingly he got a bit tired after the last. Basically he blew up and I do think there’s a good bit of improvement to come after that run. He’ll go straight to Cheltenham now and get an entry in both the Champion Hurdle and the County Hurdle and we’ll see where we go.

We had an absolute disaster on New Year’s Eve at Newbury with Robin Roe. He was cantering when he fell in the Challow Hurdle and he cracked a little bone in his knee. He’s fine and he’s recuperating but he’ll have to be out for a good while and will be back next season. It was a real kick in the guts because he had a real chance of stardom, and he still has hopefully, but it’s a cruel blow to lose him to injury midway through the season. We had a lot of hopes pinned on him, but on the upside he will be back and he’s a tough horse so hopefully he can still realise his considerable potential.

11.55 Newcastle – Listen To The Man

Dan Skelton's Listen To The Man features among his Newcastle Saturday runners on January 7.

Dan Skelton’s Listen To The Man features among his Newcastle Saturday runners on January 7.

This race has cut right up and to be honest Listen To The Man should be winning. It’s as simple as that. She will be prohibitive odds obviously but we do expect her to win. Let’s hope she does and then she’ll move up in grade. The horses went up Friday afternoon and stayed overnight so the journey won’t be an issue and they will all be fresh and ready to run.

12.30 Newcastle – L’Aigle Royal

All three horses in this are quite close on the ratings. The minimum trip is probably not ideal for L’Aigle Royal however he does face rivals that he’s within touching distance of. That gives him a chance. He jumps well at home and with just two horses against him we have a decent shot.

1.35 Newcastle – Corrin Wood

He looks like he’s got his act back together. It’s a small field, we’ve put the cheek pieces on him and it’s the first time Harry has ridden him. He’s got to run well but it has been a long time since he won. We think he’ll run a big race.

2.10 Newcastle – Island Confusion

It’s Island Confusion’s first run for us. He’s a maiden over hurdles and fences. I thought we’d start him out in a handicap hurdle. He goes nicely at home and jumps nicely too. He likes a bit of cut in the ground so he should go well. I’m not saying he’ll win but we’d expect him to run well.

1.50 Sandown – Savello

Dan has entered Savello in the 1.50 at Sandown on Saturday.

Dan has entered Savello in the 1.50 at Sandown on Saturday.

Savello is struggling for a bit of form this year. He was last in a three runner race and picked up eight grand so that worked out well. The handicapper probably needs to help him. Harry felt he was going well when he fell at Cheltenham, but he’s struggling for form at the moment. We’re running him again after eleven days and hoping he’ll bounce back in to form soon, and hopefully before long we can win another race with him. We need the handicapper to relent. He didn’t win a handicap last year; he won a weight for age race.

If they are going to have Veteran’s Chases, perhaps they should have them at two miles as well as at three miles, for horses like Savello? That said, personally I’m not a great fan of Veteran’s Chases. Those older horses get the best of both worlds as they can run in any normal handicaps, and then can also run in these Veteran’s races which are worth plenty and then have a £100k final. We need younger horses coming through as that’s the cycle of racing, and the prize money there to encourage owners to invest in our sport. The masters series in Tennis and Golf don’t have prize money similarities…

Most of the horses are having a quiet week now as nearly all of them have had their flu vaccinations. We decided this time last year that we do this, so we gave all the horses their flu vaccinations on the same day, on the second of January, apart from those running 2nd-14th January. I won’t be running anything next week, apart from a few on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Basically over the next fortnight it’s going to be a quiet time for us as we let the horses get over their flu vaccinations and then we’ll kick on.

Dan

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