StableTalk: Dan Skelton on weekend runners at Aintree, Wincanton and Ffos Las
Coral horse racing ambassador Dan Skelton spoke exclusively to us about his Saturday runners at Wincanton and Aintree, plus Sunday entrants at Ffos Las.
Dan Skelton blog
The lack of rain is just a headache. I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing to owners for the past month. “We just need rain, we need some rain” to the point where people are probably bored of me saying it.
But the fact of the matter is we can’t control the weather, and though it’s getting the point that this situation is unprecedented, it is England and it will rain.
We still had 14 winners in October, we went to Carlisle a couple of times, Ayr a couple of times, we went where we could to get as many runners out as we could because we don’t want them all stacking up and running against each other when it does rain.
It was a massive effort by the team to get to 14 winners for the month and I’m very proud of that. Hopefully it will rain soon and we can kick on, and some of those horses that want the softer ground will have benefitted from a run at those northern venues.
Saturday runners at Wincanton and Aintree
1.35 Wincanton – Virgilio
Virgilio is a lovely horse, very genuine. He’s won both his chase starts. This type of race is within his grasp. Whether or not he’ll win this Grade 2 tomorrow remains to be seen but I’d be very surprised if he couldn’t win one through his career. It’s a tough race. All four horses have won their last two starts. Frodon gets the weight and is respected. Shantou Village has won around Cheltenham and looks a real stayer, and Master Dee is running well. So you couldn’t rule any of them out and it looks a very good novice chase.
The track will suit him and it should be a fast run race which is what he wants. I think he would have nearly been second to Altior in the Supreme if he hadn’t stepped on the second last. Hopefully there is a little room in his handicap mark. He will spend this year hurdling and go chasing next year. It’s a lovely race to start him off, and I’m looking forward to running him.
2.45 Wincanton- Renee’s Girl
This type of race has been the target ever since the spring. The race has cut up and the top weight is 126 and we’re running for a valuable prize money pot. We thought we’d be carrying a lot less weight than this but we are carrying more weight because the race has cut up so we’re happy with that. I’m looking forward to her immensely. All three of ours go to Wincanton with good chances but it’s tough racing down there so I’d be happy with one winner, and if I could sneak two then that would be great and three winners would be a dream.
12.55 Aintree – Focaccia
This is quite a deep race but we need to get this horse some experience. He jumped the second last at Warwick when he fell , went a stride and then just forgot to carry on galloping and fell over. He’s done plenty of jumping at home. He’s a half-brother to Gods Own and I think he will want fences in time. He’s in at the deep end but it’s nice ground up there, so we’ll run him and see where we are. He’s going to need time.
I think there will be plenty of connections bullish about their chances in this race. They might get quite a bit of rain up there and I wouldn’t want bundles for this horse. If it was soft I could leave him to race in the middle of the week, where I have him in at Huntingdon and Bangor. I don’t think it will go soft so we’ll have to see. There is very decent opposition but I do think we rode him all wrong at Kempton. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. He’s a stayer but there was no pace in the race so I told him to ride him prominently in third and what we should have done was stuck to holding him up because that’s how he likes to be ridden, and come with one run. So that’s how we will ride him tomorrow, we’ll hold him up, and two and a half miles really suits him. He’s one of our leading horses on the handicap marks and I’m really looking forward to running him. I just don’t want too much rain.
4.15 Aintree – One For Billy
This is quite a deep bumper. Tom George’s horse Cruiseaweigh bumped into a very decent one of Paul Nicholls at Wincanton and has that experience on us. Our horse is a really nice national hunt horse. He’s by Midnight Legend, he’s very tough. I think he’ll improve for this experience mentally but we do like this horse. His work has been good at home but he is a jumper, and will be much better over obstacles in time.
Sunday entrants at Ffos Las
12.50 Ffos Las – Stage One
He made a bad error at Fakenham where he was in the process of running a good race. I’m not saying he would have won but he was running very well. The drop back in trip will suit, as he seems to have plenty of pace. He’s fit and well, been jumping well at home. He’s ready to go again. He will go well.
His form was boosted in the week when Garde Du Victoire, who we were second to over hurdles, ran so well in the Haldon Gold Cup. This is Welsh Shadow’s first start over fences which is what he was bred to do.
The two and a half mile trip is perfect, and we just want the ground on the easier side of good. We don’t want any good to firm in the ground and I don’t think there will be. I’m looking forward to running him over fences. We always knew he would be a chaser and it was a good run over an inadequate trip over hurdles the other day, against an exceptional rival.
Two Taffs is heading for the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock in two weeks’ time but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Born Survivor, who is in that race too. I’ll see how he is over the next few days but I’d say it’s more likely that he’ll go to the Hennessy meeting at Newbury at the end of the month.
We held our official opening for our new staff accommodation block today. It has been great and the staff absolutely love it. It’s a lovely place and I’m very proud of it. The staff really appreciate it and hopefully it will pay dividends, as happy staff, equals happy horses, and hopefully loads of winners. We had our boiler running a bit too efficiently for the first few days, and it was like a sauna in there, but we got that sorted out, and there have been no real issues other than that. The gym is in and it’s working well.