Harry Skelton: Heading to the BHA next week to appeal Protektorat reversal

Grosvenor Sport Harry Skelton

It was a bit of an up and down day at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but that’s racing. We had three runners and they all ran really well which was great to see.

Protektorat

Protektorat is improving quickly and it’s nice that he’s now showing us his potential. He was a horse who was quite tricky to start with – very keen in his races and quite buzzy at home.

He was a little bit keen over the first couple but he then settled nicely. I was very pleased with the way he jumped and stayed on up the hill. It was his first run over two and a half miles and that looks to have brought out some more improvement.

On the day I was very surprised to lose the race, as were quite a lot of other people who I spoke to. We jumped the last a neck up and he then stayed on really well up the hill which was good on his first start over this trip.

He is owned by the Hales Family, my sponsor Ged Mason and Sir Alex Ferguson who are all great supporters of ours. They want to appeal the result, which I think is totally understandable, so we’re going down to the BHA next week.

Ultimately this horse is a three-mile staying chaser in the making, but we’ll have a look at the other Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Trial on Trials Day at the end of the month. The Ballymore itself now looks a realistic target in March.

Oldgrangewood

Oldgrangewood certainly likes his exciting finishes, doesn’t he? He really is progressing well and he’s back going the right way again. We gave him a wind operation and it’s taken a couple of runs for him to trust himself again at the backend of a race.

He was a well-handicapped horse and to be honest, he’d been a bit disappointing. He will now be very much aimed at the Brown Advisory Plate back in March.

It was a very close finish and when I crossed the line I thought it might have gone against me because I didn’t have anything else to race with. To be fair to the horse, he did see them coming on the inside and he put his head down and battled. Thankfully it was enough.

It was a great race to win and we were all thrilled for owners Chris and Sandra Giles. Chris was there and it was a lovely way to bring in the new year.

Roksana

We couldn’t have been happier with Roksana in the Relkeel Hurdle, even though we were obviously gutted not to win.

I could have done with a bit more pace down the back straight to make it more of a stamina test. Summerville Boy was just a bit quicker away from the last than us, but she stayed on well and we were all delighted with how she jumped and travelled.

You couldn’t take anything away from the winner. He’s a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner and a very good horse on his day. The form was there and she was taking on the geldings.

She felt every bit as good as she ever has, so we’ll go back for the Mares’ Hurdle in March and then hopefully on to Aintree.

We have a quiet week or so now while all the horses get their flu jabs and we’ll then get them all fully prepared for the spring.

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