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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: Dan fancies this five year old’s chances at Ascot on Saturday

Coral horse racing ambassador Dan Skelton spoke elusively to us regarding his weekend runners at all of Ascot, Ayr, Carlisle, Huntingdon and Wetherby…

I’ve got runners all over the place this weekend and we have also had a good few this week. It was great to see Value At Risk jump so well and put up such a battling performance, and I think the race will work out well. I had previously said that he would improve for his first run and I’m delighted to be proved right. It was good for the horse and that was the priority.

Robin Roe was absolutely fantastic at Aintree last Sunday. He’s a horse we have always thought very highly of and we dreamed about him putting up a performance like that but you never really expect it to happen. It was magic and he’ll head straight to the Challow Hurdle.

The exclusive StableTalk Dan Skelton blog focuses on his weekend rides at Ascot, Ayr, Carlisle, Huntingdon and Wetherby for October 29-30.

The exclusive StableTalk Dan Skelton blog focuses on his weekend rides at Ascot, Ayr, Carlisle, Huntingdon and Wetherby for October 29-30.

For Born Survivor it made a big difference when they took all the hurdles out. The winner of the race was nicely weighted but with the hurdles in I think it could have been a different result. Our horse travelled the best and jumped the best and just needed a few more obstacles. You can see what a great chaser he’s going to make next year, I just don’t want to put too much pressure on him too soon and then not end up with the horse that we should have in the long term.

Three Musketeers ran like he did first time up last year. I had done as much with him as I could and he was as fit as I could have him. I don’t think it was fitness that got him beat, but he’s probably just one of those horses that always sharpens up for a run. He travelled exceptionally well and jumped probably the best he’s ever done, but from three out he was starting to struggle. I do think however he will improve massively for the run. I don’t quite know where he’ll run next, nor do I Born Survivor and Value At Risk for that matter, but there are plenty of options now they’re underway.

It’s a busy weekend with runners at five racecourses across the country over the two days. It takes some planning but we have good people here to make it happen; indeed it’s the busy weekends like this which show you why you need such a good backroom team.

Saturday runners

2.25 Ascot – Yorkist

Dan believes Yorkist has "a big day in him" at Ascot in the 2.25.

Dan believes Yorkist has “a big day in him” at Ascot in the 2.25.

Yorkist is a horse I think has a big day in him. His form for Micky Hammond last year was good and he will love the ground at Ascot. I feel he can win a big race but whether that’s first time out, or second race out or whenever I just don’t know but I think he’ll win a good one. I’m really looking forward to getting going with him.

3.00 Ascot – Ch’ Tibello

Ch’ Tibello was second on this card last year to Altior who went on to win the Supreme. He has to carry top weight today but that’s because he’s the best horse in the race. He is a lovely horse who shows a lot of pace. The ground should be perfect for him and I do like him. He has an obvious chance in conditions that will really suit him.

3.35 Ascot – Workbench

Workbench has been magic for the yard. He likes the ground and he just about gets three miles so we will ride him patiently and pick up what we can. He doesn’t owe anyone anything and he’s a super consistent horse which is probably why he only wins once a year.

2.10 Wetherby – Stephanie Frances

Stephanie Frances is equal top weighted in this. She is going to have a couple more runs before she goes to the sales or goes in foal, so I’m just trying to fill the pot up as much as I can before she goes. She is best off a break and put up three great performances over the summer. The ground is ideal, the track should be perfect for her, so there is no reason not to think she won’t run very well.

4.20 Ayr – Throthehatch

Dan think the soft ground at Ayr (pictured) could suit Throthehatch.

Dan think the soft ground at Ayr (pictured) could suit Throthehatch.

I entered Throthethatch in a few races over the weekend but I think the ground at Ayr is softer than elsewhere so decided to run there, and it’s worked out well because the chase has fewer runners and is worth more money than the other options. I’m happy with him. He seems to have come out of his last race well; he looked well handicapped over hurdles so I’m hoping he’s still well handicapped over fences.

4.55 Ayr – Work In Progress

I think Work In Progress will love the track, and we’ll run here before he goes chasing. I was going to go straight over fences but once I saw this race and its value I thought it was worth going for. He’s the best horse in the race and he’s fit and well, but he will improve for the run too. I think he will do himself justice in this race as he is very good fresh.

Sunday runners

1.00 Carlisle – Two Taffs

The great thing about Carlisle is that the ground is soft up there. This is the last chance to run Two Taffs in a novice hurdle and he goes up there top rated. I’m looking forward to running him and he’ll then go for the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock.

1.35 Carlisle – Knockgraffon

Dan has three rides at Carlisle (pictured) on Sunday, including Knockgraffon in the 1:35.

Dan has three rides at Carlisle (pictured) on Sunday, including Knockgraffon in the 1:35.

These novice handicap chases are really competitive but that is what they are designed for. Knockgraffon has won around Leicester, which is a similar right handed track with an uphill finish, and he jumps really nicely. I think he will be a better chaser than a hurdler, it’s just a case of whether he can win a race like this at the first time of asking. I do feel though he is a chase winner waiting to happen.

3.15 Carlisle – Walking In The Air

I nearly went chasing with Walking In The Air but there was just a lack of options for him given the shortage of rain and I think off 129 he’s well treated. Two and a half miles is ideal as is the ground. He’s fit and he’s ready to go, and so I thought I’d kick on and run him in this race over hurdles. Once these horses have their first runs, and then we get a bit of rain, the horses will improve, and their second runs should then be even better than their first runs. I just love him as a potential chaser.

1.55 Huntingdon – Late Night Lily

She’s the highest rated in the race, she’s won around the track and Bridget takes 5lbs off so there are plenty of positives. The slight unknown is the trip but I think she has a great chance of winning.

Related

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

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