StableTalk: Dan Skelton lifts the covers on some of his big guns
It’s another busy weekend in prospect for the yard with nine runners in action. I’ve received a lot of requests on horses to follow for the season so here are my thoughts on our weekend runners and five horses worth keeping on side!
Bekkensfirth (12.40) ran well over hurdles at Worcester behind Philip Hobbs’ Wishfull Dreaming but Harry said he got slightly outpaced and the step-up in trip here should suit him. I’ve been pleased with his work since Worcester and as long as the ground stays as it is I feel he has a chance in what looks a nice race for him.
Onto the Novices’ Hurdle at 1.10 where I run French import Ch’Tibello. The race looks very hot but this is our last chance to run him as a novice and I’m keen to get experience into him before we have to go down the handicap route. He’s a horse with a lot of pace but it does look like a good race.
Bellenos takes his chance for us in the Byrne Group Handicap Chase at 2.15. He looked like winning a couple of races last year but it didn’t really happen for him. I hope he picks one up this year and while I do think there’s a race in him, as a punter it’s hard to put any faith in him.
Closest Friend runs in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle (2.50) after getting off the mark in impressive style at Market Rasen last time. It’s a really competitive race but he’s get a really nice racing weight and he’s a horse I like a lot. He’ll have to improve but he’s going the right way and has to have a chance.
What A Warrior returns to Ascot to defend his crown in the Sodexo Handicap Chase (3.25). He’s 5lbs higher in the weights this time around but I’ve been very happy with his preparation and while it won’t be easy, we think he goes there with a very good chance.
On Sunday, Fizzle Stix makes his racecourse debut in a Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon (1:50). I’ve been very happy with him and he jumps well but this is a whole new experience for him. He’s got ability but he might just get found out for experience on his debut.
North Hill Harvey is another debutant in the Novices’ Hurdle at 2.55. He’s a lovely, genuine sort who jumps and stays well. This race is a lovely starting point for him, he’s only a 4YO and hopefully taking on the likes of Barters Hill will give us an idea of where we go with him later in the season but he is a really nice horse and we like him.
Blue Prairie makes his hurdling debut in the same race and he actually ran better than the bare form suggests in his bumper at Chepstow earlier this month. He’s a horse who just keeps galloping at the same pace and he’ll definitely need three miles as he gets older and stronger in time. I see him as more of a 6YO or 7YO than a 4YO but he’s a nice horse.
We’re excited to see Three Musketeers (3:30 Huntington) over fences for the first time and we’re hoping he can make a winning chasing debut before going onto graded races after this. He’s had a good start to the season and hopefully everything goes well for him.
Here’s my ‘Five to Follow’ for the season:
Welsh Shadow (Robin Des Champs x What A Mewsment) – He’s a lovely horse and made a winning debut at Wetherby. He makes his seasonal debut next week and we’re very much looking forward to him.
Walking In The Air (Flemensfirth x Rossavon) – He makes his seasonal debut next week at Exeter and we’re expecting big things from him. He won a Point-to-Point in Ireland and then won on debut for us in a Bumper at Warwick. He’s a stayer in the making.
Three Musketeers (Flemensfirth x Friendly Craic) – He’s a pretty obvious one but we think the world of him and hopefully he’s destined for big things over fences.
Value At Risk (Kayf Tara x Miss Orchestra) – We’re sending Value At Risk straight to the Hennessy meeting to run in a novice chase. Whatever he did over hurdles was always going to be a bonus and we’re excited by him.
Willow’s Saviour (Septieme Ciel x Willow Gale) – Willow gave us a great day out when he won The Ladbroke in 2013. We didn’t think we’d got to the bottom of him over hurdles so hopefully he can do things over fences.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
Q: Your former boss/mentor, Paul Nicholls recently reached his 2500th winner at Exeter. What’s the secret to his success? And what was the best piece of advice he gave to you before starting your own training career? – Thomas Lee
A. Paul gave me a lot of advice so I can’t really pick out a best one but he hasn’t got any secrets to his success really. He’s a thorough professional and he doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He just does things right and that’s that.
Q: If you could win one race with one horse this year, what race would it be, with who and why? – Richard Hatchman
A. I don’t really look at things like that. We’ve never had a Festival winner and that’s what we’re aiming at so if we can win any of the Festival races that would be amazing.
All the best,