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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 14 weekend runners

Dan Skelton blog on weekend runners at Kempton, Warwick, Wetherby and Fakenham

There’s a lot been said and written in reaction to the news that Kempton Park is to be closed by Jockey Club Racecourses.

The problem I feel is that professionals feel (and are all encouraged to act) as stakeholders in Racing, and the races, fixtures and the venues, and therefore we are all entitled to our opinions on any aspect of the sport.

However I’m not going to get into whether I’m pro or against it as the reality is we don’t know any of the facts, or the detail behind the plans.

It looks to me as if something happened that meant the Jockey Club suddenly realised they’d have to tell everyone what was going on. Perhaps it was about to be made public in another area, and they realised they hadn’t let the Racing fraternity know.

The one thing everyone will agree on is that it has been badly managed by the Jockey Club PR team. It’s as if they had to tell everyone really quickly, without much planning, because the news was about to get out, and they had no information readied to explain why it was necessary or the right thing to do.

In his latest blog, Dan Skelton focuses on his weekend runners rather than Kempton's future.

In his latest blog, Dan Skelton focuses on his weekend runners rather than Kempton’s future.

So it’s definitely been badly handled but in terms of my opinion on the decision to close Kempton, I haven’t really got one because I don’t know the full facts or haven’t seen a more detailed explanation.

I think a lot of people are probably in the same boat as me in that respect. I’m very disappointed in the way it’s been managed though, and by an organisation that is normally very good at handling this type of thing.

Given the openness of the Jockey Club and the way it operates we would normally expect to be communicated with on a major decision like this, and invited to consultation sessions or something like that.

They aren’t obliged to do that but that is the way they would usually handle plans for major initiatives in normal circumstances.

Kempton Park is a premier jump track and it is important, of course it is, but then every racecourse is important. It’s important we don’t lose any racecourse but that said I accept that it’s inevitable that some racecourses may close over the coming decades because of the financial pressures that they are under and the value of their land.

Saturday Racing

12.55 Kempton – Return Flight
Return Flight has shown massive improvement this year. I’m very happy with the progression he’s shown. He was very good round Uttoxeter. I don’t think this track will hold any fears for him and he has to go there with a decent chance.

1.30 Kempton – Zamparelli
Zamparelli is taking on a couple of horses with high ratings, and we aren’t going there expecting to beat them, but ours is a nice horse who stays well and jumps well and has a very nice attitude. I think he will run a decent race. He has Irish point to point form winning his last start and is going to make a solid staying chaser in the future.

2.40 Kempton – Sam Red
I’m really looking forward to running this horse. It’s taken a fair bit of time to get him to the track. I didn’t want to run him in the old Ladbroke hurdle at Ascot over two miles and find him outpaced, so we’ve had to be patient and wait for this race. He’s been working nicely and I think he has an each way chance. It’s a competitive race but the way he works at home tells me he is suited to a race this like this. I notice in the past he’s gone off quite short in the betting in listed events in Ireland so he’s obviously always showed plenty at home. So we’ll see what he can do in this company.

3.15 Kempton – Abricot de L’Oasis

Abricot De L’Oasis is one of Dan's weekend runners at Kempton.

Abricot De L’Oasis is one of Dan’s weekend runners at Kempton.

Abricot de L’Oasis is back over fences here. He ran over fences for us once before at Wetherby, left handed, and that didn’t go well. He has a low weight in this race and other than that one race, he has been very consistent for us, and especially right handed. There is no reason he isn’t going to run another nice race.

3.45 Kempton – Ashoka and Meet The Legend
Ashoka has been off for a while. He actually fractured his pelvis going to the first hurdle at Sandown last year. I’ve done plenty with him and he’s been jumping nicely but this is a chance to see how he is back on the track and where he stands.

I really fancied Meet The Legend at Ascot last time. We dropped him in that day and he wasn’t that comfortable doing that, and he was just too keen. I do think he is a progressive horse but we need to see him settle better.

12.40 Warwick – Starlight Court
The owner of Starlight Court has horses with David Pipe and has been very loyal to Tom Scudamore over the years, so with Harry at Kempton, Tom’s on board him. This is a horse that was going to bolt in when running in an Irish point to point on soft ground and then fell at the last. We think it might just have left a bit of a mark on him mentally, but we’ve done a lot of work with him at home and we’ve put a tongue strap on him. He’s got all the makings of being a better horse than his current mark, we just need him to go out there and show it. The track will suit him fine, and we don’t know how he will handle heavy until we run him on it.

1.50 Warwick – Captain Chaos
Captain Chaos ran really well on his first run over fences and wasn’t beaten all that far. This is another deep race but three miles on deep ground should be exactly what he’s been looking for. Paddy Brennan rides and will have to play it late. He’s a talented animal, he doesn’t get any penalties in this race, and he looks to be a good each way shot really.

3.00 Warwick – Get On The Yager
These graded novice hurdles in England are always super competitive as there are so few of them. It’s not like Ireland where there appears to be more black type races. Unfortunately as Alan King pointed out in his Weekender column the prize money is poor by comparison too but that’s another story.

Dan Skelton has 14 weekend runners over January 14-15 at Kempton, Warwick, Wetherby and Fakenham.

Dan Skelton has 14 weekend runners over January 14-15 at Kempton, Warwick, Wetherby and Fakenham.

I think Get On The Yager will go well. He doesn’t get a penalty, he’s super tough and he only has to travel ten minutes up the road to have a crack at this. He should be able to run well. I was surprised he got beat at Newcastle but actually you have to give the winner credit. Sometimes you just have to praise the winner and not be too disappointed.

4.05 Warwick – Amoola Gold
I really like this horse. He has shown plenty at home for us. He’s a really nice young horse. We obviously don’t yet know how he will handle heavy ground but he is a decent prospect. I don’t know what the opposition is like given it’s a beginner’s bumper.

1.40 Wetherby – Dragon De La Tour
He’s had plenty of time off with a little niggling injury. I think he’s a nice horse. He’s grown up quite a bit, he’s strengthened up a bit, and it will be interesting to see how he goes. I’m not going to heap loads of expectation on him however as he’s been off a while.

2.50 Wetherby– Applesandpierres
I was absolutely shocked when he won last time out. I didn’t expect it at all. Harry gave him an unbelievable ride in the closing stages. I just couldn’t believe he’d won. He has to defy the handicapper’s rise but he has got the trip in his favour, as he wants to go this trip. We learned that the other day.

Sunday Racing

12.50 Fakenham – Calling Des Blins
This doesn’t look too bad a race. She won a French bumper before she joined Harry Fry. She was then one of the Potensis dispersal horses. She looks like she has plenty of pace and I think this track will suit her.

2.50 Fakenham – Tipperairy

Tipperairy is the last of Dan's weekend runners, and goes at Fakenham on Sunday.

Tipperairy is the last of Dan’s weekend runners, and goes at Fakenham on Sunday.

He does look well handicapped but he ran desperately on his last start at Fontwell last winter. We have given him plenty of time, he’s ready to go again now, and I think two and a half miles will suit him. He is actually a chaser in the making, he’s by Flemensfirth, so his future will definitely be over fences.

Dan

Related

You’ll find more from Skelton in the StableTalk archive.