Grosvenor Sport Harry Skelton

Harry Skelton: Roksana looks a million dollars ahead of Mares’ Hurdle

It was great to get a double at Hereford on Saturday – the horses are in really good form going into Cheltenham thankfully.

Northofthewall has improved all season and is really going the right way. The second had some good bumper form and was well fancied, but it’s never easy to win with a double penalty. He’ll make a nice chaser for the future.

Go Steady has won three over fences now and we can start to look at some better handicaps. I had a nice smooth run with him and hopefully he’ll carry on his progression.

Cheltenham routine

We always get to the course by midday. They’re normal days for us during Festival week: get up, ride out, get ready, head off to the races. I’m really excited now and can’t wait to get there – I just hope we have a bit of luck.

We have some good chances during the week but it’s ultra-competitive. I’ve never had so many rides there and hopefully that will give me more chance of getting a winner.

It’s our Olympics, the pinnacle, what really matters. You get up on the Tuesday morning and if you’re not excited you’re in the wrong job.

Everyone wants to be there and have a winner but obviously not everyone does. It’s so hard and competitive.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 1:30

I think Shishkin looks very good. There was a bit of the wow factor about him at Newbury, he hit the line really hard. I think he can get the Brits off to a good start.

Nicky [Henderson] has got a strong hand with Chantry House and I think Edwardstone could run well at a decent price if there’s a good gallop.

There was some talk about Envoi Allen running here, but the ground can’t be that bad if they’ve decided to stick with the Ballymore. They certainly know what they’re doing. The forecast from Tuesday onwards looks pretty good and Cheltenham dries fast.

Maire Banrigh – 2:10

We’re really looking forward to running her in the Arkle, she’s in great form and the 7lbs mares’ allowance will stand her in good stead.

It’s obviously not going to be easy, but I’m excited about her and she has a live each-way chance. It certainly wouldn’t shock me at all if she won.

Notebook has been good this season. He jumps well, stays well and wears his heart on his sleeve. Global Citizen was also impressive at Kempton last time.

There will be plenty of pace on and you’re going to have to stay which she does.

Cobra De Mai – 2:50

This is always an ultra-competitive handicap and the more it dries out the better for him. He can be a bit of a moody sort, he’s been in and out all year.

It was quite a nice run at Kempton over Christmas but then he dropped himself out at Doncaster and stayed on past beaten horses.

We’re putting some headgear back on and a good, fast run handicap will suit him. We’ll be coming from off the pace. Hopefully he starts flying, gets on a roll and can run well.

Champion Hurdle – 3:30

There are 17 runners which is a very big field – we certainly haven’t seen that for a while and it shows you how open the race is.

Epatante has the strongest form in England and she gets the mares’ allowance. If I had to pick one, it would be her. I think there was a valid excuse last year with the flu jab so near to the Festival.

There are loads of other interesting contenders. Willie [Mullins] has supplemented Cilaos Emery and that is definitely worth a go. Supasundae has a chance and Sharjah is also a good horse on his day. It’s an interesting race.

Roksana – 4:10

We’re under no illusions how difficult it’s going to be. It was wonderful to win it last year and we’re very happy with her at home.

She’s training well, looks a million dollars and I think 10/1 is a cracking each-way price. This race has always been her main target and it would be incredible if she could go out and win it again.

I fear Benie Des Dieux more than Honeysuckle. What she did in France was very good. She’s a high-class mare and the one we all have to beat.

Beakstown and Knight In Dubai – 4:50

I’m looking forward to riding Beakstown, we haven’t run him all winter because of the ground. We’re trying cheekpieces for the first time and it’s a case of the drier the ground the better for him. He broke the track record at Warwick the last time he had proper decent ground.

He’s in very good form and worked really well a fortnight ago. Off 139, he looks interestingly handicapped.

We also run Knight In Dubai who has some good form. He didn’t run up to his best at Haydock last time, but he turned into the straight in front in the Coral Cup last year. He wouldn’t be without a chance.

Redzor – 5:30

He’s probably correctly priced at 50/1. My brother-in-law Jack Andrews rides and he’ll be taking his time on him.

The horse ran a bit of a funny race last time at Newbury when he dropped back and then stayed on late.

He’s in better form now. He jumps and gallops and Jack will ride him for a bit of luck to try to pick up as much prize money as possible.




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