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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 Skelton gives the lowdown on his 12 weekend runners

Top trainer Dan Skelton discusses his weekend runners and previews Sunday’s Irish Champion Hurdle…

Some of the horses have run a bit flat following their flu vacs. There are no health issues at all, no dirty noses, no coughs, no bleeding, nothing at all to worry about. Some of the horses have run well, Three Musketeers win delighted us and Heron’s Heir won nicely during the week, but some of the horses are travelling well to around two out and then seem to be feeling the effects of the flu vac and not quite finishing their races off as well as they can. It’s not unexpected either.

Last year we had five winners in January, and this year we are on four, and then last year we felt the benefits of the flu vac and the quiet month, and had eighteen winners in February. You can’t expect all the horses to be at their peak and in top form throughout the whole season. You have to have that quiet spell and then pick it up again as you come in to February with the busy spring ahead.

SATURDAY

12.35 Cheltenham – Zarib

He won last time with the blinkers on. That made a big difference to him so we’ve left them on. I’m looking forward to going back to Cheltenham with him. He’s run creditably there a few times. He’s been a lot of fun for everybody involved. There’s no reason why he can’t be competitive but the handicapper does know all about him, and it’s a very deep race.

12.50 Doncaster – Asum

Asum will really like the ground at Doncaster. The trip holds no fears for him and I think he’ll run really well.

1.25 Doncaster – No Hassle Hoff

They probably didn’t go fast enough for him in the Grade 2 at Cheltenham last time. He wasn’t beaten all that far. I think the handicapper is under-rating him and I think he’ll give a really good account of himself here. He loves three miles, the track isn’t going to be a problem. I really hope they go a good gallop as that what he wants. The ground shouldn’t be an issue either.

1.55 Doncaster – Yorkist

I was delighted with his win last time. This race has cut up a bit too which isn’t unhelpful. He’s a bit of a quirky type too and it took that Ascot run for us to really get to know him but we know him now. I think he’ll run creditably. Whether the track fully suits him, I don’t know, and we won’t know until we race there.  He’s in good form at home and off the back of that win he should be very competitive.

3.05 Doncaster – Late Night Lily

LATE NIGHT LILY DAN SKELTON STABLE TOUR 2016 GROSSICK PHOTOGRAPHY The Steadings Rockhallhead Collin DG1 4JW 07710461723 www.grossick.co.uk JOHN GROSSICK

Late Night Lily faces a tough task, but the Skelton yard like her a lot

It would be great to get some black type with her. She’s been a very consistent mare and we like her a lot. She’ll love the ground and she’ll love the track. We’re under no illusions about the task she faces against Vroum Vroum Mag but hopefully she’ll pick up that black type.

1.40 Uttoxeter – Thisonetime

He was a bit disappointing last time. He is much better than that. I have put a tongue strap on him just so there are no excuses. It’s not that he’s being making a noise or anything. I just want to see him run really well.

2.45 Uttoxeter – Theatrebar

With Melodic Rendezvous at the top of the weights it means we are only carrying ten stone when you include Bridget’s claim which gives him a chance. I think he’ll like the ground and I’m hopeful he’ll run well.

3.55 Uttoxeter – Master Jake

He ran well last time. I put a pair of cheekpieces on him and he improved for that. I hope he runs really well. He’s consistent, he jumps well and he’s in the right grade. I can’t do too much more for him and I hope he goes and runs a big race.

4.30 Uttoxeter – Ashoka

He had a bad injury and he showed that last time at Kempton he’s still finding his feet. I hope we are going to see a bit more from him today but I don’t think it’s going to happen straightaway. It’s a watching brief at the moment.

SUNDAY

1.20 Sedgefield – Robin Of Locksley

He was due to go over fences last time but it was called off. So I thought we’d just go back over hurdles, as the race suited and I’m taking two horses up there, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. It’s about time he won again in all honesty.

1.50 Sedgefield – Applesandpierres

This looks a good opportunity. He jumps nicely so it’s time to go chasing with him. I was surprised he won that hurdle, and then he travelled well at Wetherby the other day and perhaps didn’t quite stay. He ran really well but without winning. So we’ll kick on and go chasing with him now.

Faugheen – Irish Champion Hurdle

Faugheen features in our look back at five great winners of the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.

Faugheen features at Leopardstown this Sunday

I’ll be watching Faugheen’s comeback in Ireland with interest. The Champion Hurdle picture is so turbulent and anything but a Faugheen win will keep it that way. From the level he was at two years ago, only a win will do really, as there are only a few weeks until Cheltenham. He’s had a long time off and if he got beat it won’t be the end of the world, but in terms of Cheltenham and his Champion Hurdle aspirations surely only a win will do.

It’s not easy with these horses when they have a long time off. You have to work so hard with them to get them back. They have a great team at Willie Mullins’ and I’m sure Faugheen will be ready for it, and to be honest I expect him to win.

Dan

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