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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 13 weekend runners

Dan Skelton’s weekend runners, December 3-4

Coral ambassador Dan Skelton has 13 runners at five different race courses this weekend, from December 3-4, including at the Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown.

We were disappointed with Three Musketeers last week but he came back and had slightly sore shins, so at least there was a bit of a reason. He didn’t jump like he can, and he is making us scratch our heads a bit, but at least we might know why he ran moderately. He wasn’t lame and we’ll get him right.

Overall the horses are running well. We are ahead of last year’s prize money level at this stage, and a bit behind on number of winners, but that’s because the lack of rain held us up in October. I do think we have it in us to get 100 winners and £1 million of prize money, and those remain the targets.

The renewedlack of rain is not ideal. I’ve got the good ground horses ready for next week, for example I have Mister Miyagi pencilled in for Cheltenham next week which is fine but we do really want some rain for all the soft ground horses that haven’t had a chance yet.

We are now starting a campaign to encourage people to vote for Dad (Nick Skelton) to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He’s a guest on the Morning Line on Channel Four from Sandown and we are really going to start pushing it.

Take a look at Dan Skelton's latest 13 runners this weekend.

Take a look at Dan Skelton’s latest 13 runners this weekend.

Saturday

12.00 Aintree – Hestina

This is a nice mare with a decent staying pedigree. She was quite decent on the flat and has been jumping nicely at home. We’ve not had her all that long and we are chucking her straight into a juvenile fillies listed contest, as there’s only one of them all year so I was keen to run her in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she won but it’s probably more likely that she gets placed as she lacks that experience over hurdles. There’s is a chance that we are running her too quickly and needed to do a bit more at home, or to have given her more time to get into our system, but I am happy with her.

12.30 Aintree – Oldgrangewood

Oldgrangewood was a revelation over fences last time out at Kempton and he will definitely be suited by going left handed. This race is obviously a good bit deeper and he’s gone up 10lbs so he’s got to prove that he can take this next step. He’s one of the least experienced but that also means he’s one of the least exposed. The ground will be perfect.

1.00 Aintree – Atlantic Storm

This race has cut up to only a few runners but there are a couple of decent looking horses in it. I view this horse more as a future chaser but I was quite happy with his run at Huntingdon. That said I wouldn’t be banging the drum saying he’s improved bundles at home since then. He is basically a chaser for next year.

12.10 Wetherby – Kafella

I really like Kafella but the Nicky Henderson horse, Baden, has a high official rating and will be hard to beat. I do think Kafella could be up to that level of performance one day but he’s only four and he’s less experienced than Baden. We do like him though.

12.40 Wetherby – Its‘afreebee

Coral horse racing ambassador Dan Skelton's horse Its'afreebee races in the 12:40 at Wetherby on Saturday.

Coral horse racing ambassador Dan Skelton’s horse Its’afreebee races in the 12:40 at Wetherby on Saturday.

Its’afreebee takes on Cole Harden and has to give him 7lbs. I imagine Cole Harden will make the running and we will it second and see how we get on. I want to see him put a lacklustre run at Cheltenham behind him, and would like him to gallop and stay all the way to the line. He has a fist time tongue strap on, which is just to try something new, as he hasn’t been making any noises at home or anything like that.

12.35 Chepstow – The Bay Oak

I think The Bay Oak has a chance. He’ll love the trip and is fresh and well after his recent win. It was only eleven days ago but he’s tough.

1.40 Chepstow – Le Braye

He ran nicely first time but it’s still only his second ever start. Sometimes horses can run even more green on their second start than their first, as they anticipate what’s coming. It’s a full field and ultimately I think he’s going to improve with time.

2.45 Chepstow – Corrin Wood

Corrin Wood features among Dan Skelton's weekend runners at Chepstow.

Corrin Wood features among Dan Skelton’s weekend runners at Chepstow.

He ran really well on his debut for us at Cheltenham in a competitive handicap where he made all the running. The handicapper has only put him up a pound so he’s given him a chance again. Before that run for us his form had lots of letters and big numbers rather than small numbers, so we need to him repeat that good run last time, and bring some consistency back to his game. I’m hoping he’ll run well. I’m building up to a target over fences when we think it’s appropriate. I don’t yet know what it is or where it is. That said he’s fit and ready today.

3.50 Chepstow – Asylo

This is a nice horse. He’s done plenty at home but he will be green. He’s one that I didn’t want to go straight over hurdles with as I think he could be a little bit on and off the bridle. I think he’ll benefit from running in a bumper. I’m looking forward to seeing him run as we do like him.

2.25 Sandown – Indietir and Bertiemont

Indietir is having his first race for us after having nearly a year off. But that year off wasn’t because of injury. He came to us having finished second in a Grade One, the Prix Cambaceres for four year olds, and he just had a few niggly bits which meant he had to have the rest of the season off. We then couldn’t get stuck into him in the Autumn because there was no rain and we couldn’t use the grass gallops. So it’s taken a bit of time to get to the point where we are happy with him. We are happy with him now and if he is a Grade One horse, then a mark of 141 will look very lenient But it’s his first run in the UK. He goes well at home and you’d expect a horse with his profile to show you heaps, but he’s got to go and do it on the track now. He’s prepared, he jumps well, he jumps slick. It’s in his hands now.

Bertiemont also runs. I was really surprised with him at Ascot last time. He jumped and travelled really well, but then probably because he’d had so long off he seemed to blow up, but I had done as much as I could with him. We need to see if he can get back to the level he was at before. He’s been going OK at home and he looked to me as if he’d got his competitive spirit back but I just don’t know what made him check out like he did at Ascot. He did travel well to three out so that was a positive. It was the last three furlongs that weren’t so good. I hope for better today but it’s a big ask.

Sunday

1.30 Huntingdon – Heron’s Heir

Dan says the Huntingdon track will suit Heron’s Heir.

Dan says the Huntingdon track will suit Heron’s Heir.

He’s run well on his last two starts with a win and a third. This track will suit him. There’s no reason why he can’t be competitive.

3.00 Huntingdon – Chateau Chinon

He’s a nice horse who ran ok at Uttoxeter. He’s going to be a jumper, he’s Virgilio’s brother, but he may be one that wants a bit of time. He’s only four years old.

Related

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