Dan Skelton Reflects On Mediocre Cheltenham Festival

Dan Skelton

Dan Skelton had an up and down festival this year not being able to add another Cheltenham winner to his roster but picking up some nice place money with his horses that ran to a good standard at big prices.

However, even without picking up that elusive winner Skelton believes there was big positives to take from his runners at Prestbury Park that he can use when it comes to next years March feature meeting.

Overall, the Alcester handler would of been hoping to at least get one winner but when looking how his team performed overall the results were pretty much how he thought it would go.

He said: “Apart from Allmankind running a bit flat in the Triumph Hurdle, nothing really under performed or found 10lb of improvement.

“If I was grading it, I would be giving it a C as we did all right, but could do better.

“At the end of the day, they all ran all right and the ones that I thought should be placed were and the others finished where we half-expected them to.”

One of the best performing horses for Skelton across the four days was Third Time Lucki in the Champion Bumper, where he went on to finish fourth and looks like a potential star over hurdles in the making.

It was a very good run by Third Time Lucki in the Champion Bumper and hopefully that sets him up beautifully for novice hurdles next season.

“Hopefully he will take high rank among the British novice hurdlers and I would be surprised if he didn’t based on that run.

“I would definitely start him off over two miles, I could see him stepping up to two and half, but nothing is confirmed yet. I expect big things from him.”

Roksana was looking to defend her Mares Hurdle title after picking up the pieces last season after Benie Des Dieux fell at the last, but she could only finish fourth.

The trainer still believes she can get back to winning ways, he added: He said: “I think she ran respectably, but we will look at races over three miles next season.

“Last year she was two or three lengths behind Benie Des Dieux when she fell and she was in exactly the same place this year. She finished ahead of Stormy Ireland and did again this time and this was a much stronger renewal.

“She has been carrying a Grade One penalty, which she won’t have to next season, and not carrying that penalty will see her win races.”

Skelton admitted that Allmankind underperformed in his eyes but still would not have been good enough to get past Goshen if he was to stay on his feet and will be avoiding Gary Moore's horse next season.

He said: “I thought he ran flat and Harry (Skelton) got off him and said he ran flat, but he has still won a Grade One this season and a Triumph Hurdle trial.

“We wouldn’t have beaten Goshen, who was extremely impressive and the moral winner, even if we were at the top of our game as there hasn’t been a four-year-old as exciting as him in a long time.

“It’s the hardest year for hurdlers after their juvenile season, so we will see what the season brings and I’m not going to make big commitments or bold predictions. I think we will just try to avoid Goshen.”