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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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Dan gives the lowdown on his ten weekend runners

We’ve had two wins and three seconds from our last five runners which is really encouraging and the horses are all showing their form. Here are my thoughts on our ten runners over the weekend, as well as answers to some of the questions that you’ve kindly sent in. Keep them coming.

Saturday

2:10 Cheltenham

Workbench

He put up a career best last time out at Fontwell. I suppose given how much running he has done, it would be silly to say he is improving. However he is definitely suited by going two miles these days and the ground at Cheltenham will be perfect for him, all his wins have been on good ground. He’s in good form at home, obviously the bar is being raised again but I’d be hopeful he’ll run a big race.

2:45 Cheltenham

Fou Et Sage

He was a highly rated juvenile in France last year and finished behind Bonito Du Berlais on a couple of occasions. He won a Listed race at Auteuil on heavy ground this time last year. Ideally I’d like to see some rain and I think there are few showers promised. He’s got a high rating of 147 so you know he’s a good horse but this looks a very good renewal competing against the likes Hargam and Devilment. He shows us plenty and we are very happy with him, he is ready to run and we’ll know where we are with him after this.

4:30 Cheltenham

Long House Hall

We think quite highly of him. He’s not come off the bridle in three runs for us, two hurdles and a chase and has won over course and distance over hurdles back in April. There are a few good looking one’s in the race. John Ferguson’s (Parlour Games) is definitely the one to beat. He’s a Grade 1 winner who subsequently finished second at the (Cheltenham) Festival. He could offer us a fair steer of what our future targets are. However our horse jumps very well, I like him an awful lot. The ground will be perfect for him and I do think he’ll run well.

Dan Skelton Stable Tour

Sunday

1:25 Aintree

Knockgraffon

We were a bit surprised he got beaten in his bumper, of course you can get beaten in any race but what really surprised us was how easily the other horse won. I honestly thought we’d nearly win that day. He has schooled very well. I think the track will be ideal and as long as the ground is properly good, we don’t have a problem. If the going is good to soft in places it will be even better for him. Obviously from what I’ve said, he’s a horse that we think plenty of and we do expect him to go well.

3:00 Aintree

Work In Progress

He runs under a 6ib penalty having won very easily last Sunday at Kempton. He gets a nice low weight in this and I think the track and the ground is absolutely perfect for him. I hope he takes a bit of beating. I thought he’d win last Sunday but not in the manner he did it in, he was very good. He’s been in good form in the week since that run, he literally didn’t have a run the other day, and he just cantered round. I’m very happy with him, he’s obviously an improved horse for the summer and I hope he can go and add a £25,000 race to his CV.

Horse Racing - Kempton Racecourse

3:15 Wincanton

Squire Trelawney

He’s coming back after a long time off. I can’t believe we didn’t win with him when we had him two seasons ago. Whether he’s going to need this, after such a long break, I would imagine that is going to be the case but I’ve done a lot of work with him. I do think he’ll improve for the run. He jumps nicely at home and as long as they’ve had a little bit of rain, the ground should be absolutely fine for him.

3:30 Aintree

Le Bacardy

He’s a pound out of the handicap but that doesn’t bother me too much. Whether or not he’s better off running over a little bit of a shorter trip, we’ll just have to wait and see but I don’t mind going into this race off a low weight, it’s worth a good few quid. Obviously we can take our time on him a little bit in a race like this, but he is in good form at home. We nearly got the trip with him last year, he has done so in France in the past and he won a £20,000 handicap for us in the spring. He runs off 10-4 on Sunday you’d have to think he’s got a competitive chance.

Horse Racing - Coral Scottish Grand National - Day Two - Ayr Racecourse

3:45 Wincanton

Cupachai

I thought he ran well quite well in his bumper at Market Rasen a few weeks back, he was prominent for a long way. He also ran well in an English point-to-point and this is his first run over hurdles but I would imagine there’s going to be a few too good for him in this type of race. Looking at his form, you’d have to think that there are others in here with a better chance. However I was very keen to support this race as it’s a memorial race for Dominic Baker who was the son of Clifford Baker, the head lad at Paul’s (Nicholls).

4:00 Aintree

Abricot De L’Oasis

I don’t know too much about him. It’s his first run for us. He had a pretty nasty fall over fences on his last run so I’m keen to start over hurdles. It’s only up the road for the owners and it’s a nice track for him. He runs off a mark of 113 but I don’t know if he’s well handicapped. He goes nicely and worked well during the week but you can see that from his form, he’s won races so you know he has ability and he can win but whether he can win off a mark of 113, I couldn’t tell you. We should learn something from this run.

4:35 Aintree

Rock Chick Supremo

She’s a nice mare and she surprised us last year when she was staying on fourth at Kempton. We thought she was a bit backward and green to do herself that much justice on the day but she ran really well and we really do like her a lot. My dad is involved in the ownership of this mare and we actually bought her as a foal. She is a very nice mare and I think she’s a jumping type so hurdling will be more her game but I do think she’ll run well on Sunday.

NEW FEATURE – ASK DAN & WIN A FREE £50 BET!

Here’s your chance to ask me any question that takes your fancy? Just email it to me at askdanskelton@coral.co.uk and each week I will select what I think are the best ones to answer, and if one of those questions is yours then you’ll win a free £50 bet (Unfortunately due to time pressures I will only be able to answer the questions that I pick out).

Dan Skelton Stable Tour

Q – What are your thoughts on sending horses to compete in Ireland? Do you think races are harder or easier to win there? Do you anticipate targeting more Irish races this year?Question provided by Eugene Rogers

A – Well the biggest problem with that suggestion is Willie (Mullins) and Gordon (Elliott). In every graded race they seem to have four or five horses between them so it’s a hard arena to win in. If you’re going to make the trip, you’re going to be targeting the better races as there’s no point in going over for a normal sort of handicap, you can do that over here. So realistically I actually think English trainers are better off staying here unless you’ve got a Grade 1 horse that you think will be better suited going to Ireland for whatever reason. And don’t forget the Irish handicapper! They always say that the Irish horses coming to compete in England always have a few pounds in hand so why would you go looking to beat somebody who’s well handicapped.

Q – One thing I love about the yard is that you seem able to revitalise horses from other trainers. What do you think it is about your yard and your training process that can find this improvement from seemingly out of the blue?Question provided by Alex Bellew

A – I don’t think it’s anything in particular. I’ve got a good team around me and we don’t leave any stone unturned. If the horse needs a certain type of care, or some kind of help we provide this and do everything in our powers to get the best out of them. I don’t do anything different to Paul Nicholls or any other trainer for that matter. We get them fit and put them in a race that we think they can be competitive. Sometimes it can be as simple as a change of scenery and this does help horses. I’m hardly going to say that I’m a genius and can improve all these horses because the reality is that a lot of these horses do improve when entering a new yard as they will have spent a long time in one place and do improve for the change.

All the best,

Dan