Leading British trainer Dan Skelton fielded a top team of runners across the weekend and although it did not work out for all of them, he has given his thoughts on the action.
Starting with Nube Negra in the Tingle Creek this weekend, the Spanish bred Shloer Chase winner was very disappointing on Saturday only beating one runner home in the five horse race, finishing clkose to 13 lengths behind the winner Greaneteen.
Having headed into the event in fine form having won nicely on debut, the seven year old massively underperformed and it now looks as though he will go straight to the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March and not be seen before that.
(Credit ATR) Skelton said: “He’s grand – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“Obviously he can be better than the result and we’ll just keep him fresh now until Cheltenham.“
Clearly, he has to be fresh, so we’ll go straight for the Champion Chase.”
Nube Negra was one of three big chances for Skelton in the big races across the weekend that ultimately flopped with Third Time Lucki looking for glory in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and Allmankind looking for more Group Two success in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
Both of the chasers were underwhelming on the day, going off as favourite and being well beaten in the end and Skelton has explained what he has learnt from both of their runs.
“There were no excuses with any of them going into the races. We learned a little bit from each of the runs, as you would hope you would – you always learn, whether you win or lose,” Skelton added.
“Third Time Lucki never really got into the same rhythm jumping-wise as he did at Cheltenham last time.
“It was a third run in seven weeks and maybe he can be a little fresher as well, but I’m not making excuses for these horses. I was happy with them going into it and like I said, you learn from it.
“We’ll get him freshened up now. He’ll probably go to Warwick for the Kingmaker in January and then on to Cheltenham in March.
“Allmankind was just flat – that wasn’t him at all. Going up the straight his jumping left was accentuated, but he’s won a Grade One right-handed and it’s not really an issue when he’s on form.“
These top-end races take a lot out of a horse and it takes some time to recover from them.”
The one shining light for the yard at the weekend was Protektorat's extremely impressive victory in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, with the geldings victory by 25 lengths putting him firmly in the Gold Cup picture going forward.
Skelton said: “Protektorat was absolutely magic. I was delighted with how he’s stepped up in trip. We always thought the ability was there and he’s matured and become more consistent.
“We’ll give him one run before the Gold Cup, but I don’t know where that will be.“He won’t be going to Ireland at Christmas and it won’t be the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham (in January) as I think the ground and everything would make it a hard experience for him.
“The idea is to have him at his very best for the Gold Cup.”