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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: “Round there off ten stone he’s got to have a big chance. There’s nothing negative I can say.”

It’s a busy time for all of us juggling work and family life during the Festive season but I live next to the yard so I don’t find it difficult. We are very happy with how the preparations for the busy post-Christmas period have gone and we managed to get it all organised early which has made a big difference. We get three days with no racing before Boxing Day, so it’s quiet and that’s nice for a change. This year we are going down to my wife, Gracie’s, parents for Christmas Day and then on to Kempton on Boxing Day. Yes it’s a busy time of year, but I’d rather be busy as it shows we have plenty of horses to run and things are going well.

Kempton

12.50 Kempton – Meet The Legend

Meet The Legend is a very nice horse, and has already proved a very good bumper horse. He’s having his first hurdles start in a really competitive race but I’d prefer to start in a race like this where they’ll go a really good gallop and he’ll get a chance to settle, and we can ride a normal race on him. He’s probably going to be a stayer in time. It’s quite a strong race but we feel it’s a good starting point for him.

1.25 Kempton – Bekkensfirth

Dan Skelton Stable Tour

He won really well first time over fences a couple of weeks ago. He jumped really well and we are really happy with him. He gets bottom weight in this race, and it’s a £20k race so we thought it worth taking a chance. He’s in great form. Quite how he compares against these better horses we’ll have to see but I couldn’t be happier going into it.

3.10 Kempton – Al Ferof

Al_Ferof

He’s notoriously really good fresh. Everything has gone so well with him since the Peterborough Chase and I couldn’t be any happier with how he is, but there is this nagging thought at the back of my mind that he always seems to be at his best first time out every year. But he’s in great shape and it’s just unfortunate that this looks the best quality King George for years. He could finish fifth and run exceptionally well and that could be said for any of the top six in the betting. Even Valseur Lido has a chance as Willie wouldn’t be bringing him over to make up the numbers. I do feel it is very competitive race. What will be, will be.

If I had to pick one horse that I fear most, then it’s Cue Card. He’s been great this year. He’s been there and he’s shown he can do it consistently at the top level. The others have to show they can step up to it. Vautour is arguably the most exciting horse because he is in the ‘could be anything’ bracket, and Don Cossack is the highest rated of them all.

Wetherby

1.45 Wetherby – What A Good Night

I’m very happy with What A Good Night. He’s a couple of pounds out of the handicap which doesn’t bother me. Round there off ten stone he’s got to have a big chance. I’ve been very happy with him since Bangor. There’s nothing negative I can say about his chance.

2.20 Wetherby – Abricot de L’Oasis

I took a chance with him over two miles last time because I thought the race would cut up. In hindsight it did anything but that. The winner of the race has gone and won again. Two miles and five furlongs around Wetherby will be much more to his liking and I would say he has an each way chance.

2.55 Wetherby – Le Bacardy

RACING

He’s completely struggling for form. The handicapper keeps dropping him but it’s not helping him. He’s out of form. He has the ability to win a race like this but I need to see some sort of rekindling of his form. All we can do is wait for him to bounce back to what he is capable of. He needs to race as he’s fit and well and if he’s too high in the handicap he’s not going to come down by being stood in his box. Also if you run in enough of these races, sometimes one falls your way.

Fontwell

12.20 Fontwell – Fizzlestix

It was a funny race he ran in up at Catterick. Two of them got away and that was it, they never really came back. There was almost a separate race for third and beyond. In all reality he is going to be one for handicaps at a later date. Of what we’ve seen of him he’s not going to win a weight for age. Having said that it doesn’t look the most competitive of races and he is fit and he jumps well.

2.05 Fontwell – Rock Of Leon

Rock_Of_Leon

I think he has a chance even off top weight as Bridget Andrews takes 5lbs off. He won at the track on the same day last year. He will handle the ground. It’s a competitive race without being really strong and he must have a chance. He pulled up the other day because he ran a bit quick so I’m not too worried about that. He should go well. There’s no reason why he won’t.

Huntingdon

12.45 Huntingdon – Late Night Lily

She pricked her foot and couldn’t run recently. She had a day without a shoe on and seems absolutely fine. As long as I’m happy with her between now and Boxing Day she’ll take her chance. She jumps very well, I do like her. She won her bumper and was probably in too deep in a listed race last time. And to be fair she didn’t also act round Cheltenham, coming down the hill. But she does jump well. She’s not without an each way chance.

2.25 Huntingdon – Arthamint

I think he’s got a great chance. He should have won twice this year but had one race taken off him when David England weighed in 1lb light for some reason we cannot put our finger on, but that’s history. I would be quite hopeful he’d go well. The handicapper has put him up but hasn’t been whacking him.

Merry Christmas

Dan