Skelton To Make Late Call On Roksana Festival Option


Leading British trainer Dan Skelton has explained he will be waiting until the last possible moment to make his decision as to what race his super-mare Roksana will head into at the Cheltenham festival in March.

Having been a shock winner of the Grade One Mares Hurdle in 2019 she has since placed in some nice events at Aintree and Cheltenham and has established her as one of the best mares in the sport.

She went back to defend her crown at Cheltenham in March 2020 and could only finish fourth behind some star mares, but that form has since been franked.

Roksana made a credible seasonal debut for the yard when winning the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby in October and backed that up last time out with another big run.

She headed into the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot over three miles and finished a smart third behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill.

Roksana then headed back to the Berkshire track over the same course and distance taking on three runners in the Grade Two Mares Hurdle and went on to emphatically land the event by eight lengths.

Skelton is left with a predicament as to whether to send her to the Mares Hurdle she won in 2019 or the Stayers' Hurdle on the Thursday of the festival and has explained it will be a last minute decision.

(Credit ATR) “I’m really happy with her,” said Skelton.

“She’s come out of Ascot well and she will either run in the Mares’ or the Stayers’. It will depend a little on the ground.

“If the ground was just good to soft, then I think she’d have to go three miles. If it was a very wet forecast in the build-up, and we were going to get very wet ground on the Tuesday, she could go to the Mares’.

“It’s a hard thing just to say ‘yes, definitely’ we’ll go for one or the other, at this point.”